Congress stalemated on guns despite shooting, filibuster
Friday, June 17, 2016
WASHINGTON -- The slaughter in Florida and an attention-grabbing filibuster in the Senate did little to break the election-year stalemate in Congress over guns Thursday, with both sides unwilling to budge and Republicans standing firm against any new legislation opposed by the National Rifle Association.
Democrats renewed their call to action after Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., held the floor along with colleagues in a nearly 15-hour filibuster that lasted into the early hours Thursday.
"We can't just wait, we have to make something happen," said Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., at an emotional news conference where Democrats joined family members of people killed in recent mass shootings. "These are people bound by brutality, and their numbers are growing."
But Republicans were dismissive of Democrats' demands. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., derided Murphy's filibuster as a "campaign talk-a-thon" that did nothing but delay potential votes.
Noting a few Democrats had skipped a classified briefing on the Florida nightclub shooting to participate in the filibuster, McConnell chided: "It's hard to think of a clearer contrast for serious work for solutions on the one hand and endless partisan campaigning on the other."
Democrats spoke of the need for new gun legislation. Republicans cited the threat posed by the Islamic State group, to which Orlando gunman Omar Mateen swore allegiance while killing 49 people in a gay nightclub early Sunday.
But the two sides mostly talked past each other, and efforts to forge consensus sputtered out. As a result, the Senate faced the prospect of taking dueling votes beginning Monday on Democratic and GOP bills, all of which looked destined to fail.
The back-and-forth came as President Barack Obama visited the victims' families in Orlando, and called on lawmakers to act.
"Those who defend the easy accessibility of assault weapons should meet these families and explain why that makes sense," he said.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton joined Senate Democrats' call for action. Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump weighed in with a tweet suggesting he would meet with the NRA and support efforts to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. Exactly what he would support was unclear.