IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The next talking filibuster?

It stands to reason that any Senate measure to reduce gun violence will need at least 60 votes to overcome Republican obstructionist tactics. In fact, since
The next talking filibuster?
The next talking filibuster?

It stands to reason that any Senate measure to reduce gun violence will need at least 60 votes to overcome Republican obstructionist tactics. In fact, since literally every bill of any consequence is already effectively required by the GOP minority to get a supermajority, it stands to reason gun legislation would be no different.

But this one might be worth watching.

A trio of Republican senators on Tuesday warned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) they plan to filibuster any attempts at bringing new gun control legislation to the floor of the Senate.The move comes just days after Reid announced plans to push forward on a gun control bill which would expand background checks and penalties on straw purchasers.Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) argue in a letter to Reid that the proposed bill amounts to an infringement of Second Amendment rights.

Now, as a substantive matter, the notion that background checks are unconstitutional is kind of silly and very hard to take seriously. As Cruz knows very well, there's nothing unconstitutional about any of the Democratic proposals on reducing gun violence, at least under existing Supreme Court precedent.

But what I'm especially interested in is whether the right-wing trio of senators is planning a real filibuster, along the lines of the 13-hour spectacle Paul and his allies recently offered.

Indeed, wouldn't that be the ideal? Principled senators taking a bold stand against a policy they feel strongly about, shining a spotlight on a debate important to the public?

Of course, Paul, Lee, and Cruz would be taking something of a risk -- drawing attention to the fact that they intend to block a debate on a proposal backed by 90% of Americans -- but that's what it makes it all the more worthwhile.

In an added twist, the January agreement on filibuster "reform" may even become relevant in this instance.

Roll Call had an interesting report worth checking out.

Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee may be out of luck in their quest to prevent the Senate from taking up gun control legislation. [...]Paul, Cruz and Lee may already know that their desire to filibuster the bill could be short-circuited by the Senate's new rules, adopted in January.... While motions to proceed have often faced a supermajority procedural vote, the Senate's revised rules and procedures allow Reid to proceed to legislation without the threat of a pre-emptive filibuster under a new process that guarantees votes on two amendments for each party. Under those rules, Reid could not immediately deploy a long-established procedural trick known as filling the amendment tree to preclude GOP proposals he finds unpalatable from getting floor votes.After the Republicans and Democrats each offer two amendments, it seems that the Senate would then return to the method of operation common in recent years, with senators allowed to offer additional amendments unless and until Reid makes procedural moves to turn off the spigot. That could include filling the amendment tree once each party has had their two votes or filing a motion to end debate on the underlying bill. Indeed, nothing in the new rules would prohibit Paul, Cruz, Lee or any other senator from mounting a filibuster of the bill before passage.A senior Democratic aide would not rule out Reid using the new rules to force gun control to the floor, saying that every procedural option is on the table.

It's something to keep an eye on when the Senate returns from its two-week recess.