On Tuesday, three republicans sent a letter to Senate House Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) telling him that they “will oppose the motion to proceed” any bill that subverts the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) drafted the letter that didn’t explicitly use the word ‘filibuster’ but was, nevertheless, clearly threatening one.
“We will oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions,” the three tea party conservatives wrote in the letter obtained by POLITICO.
A filibuster would delay or prevent the vote on Reid’s gun bill. To avoid the filibuster or to stop one in progress, three fifths of the full Senate (60 out of 100 senators) would have to invoke cloture, which means to bring the debate to an end so that a vote can ensue.
Following Easter Recess, Reid will bring his gun control package up for consideration. The package will include a measure to increase federal funding for school safety programs, a measure designed to crack down on straw purchasers and a controversial universal background check provision that has yet to be finalized.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s 2013 Assault Weapons Ban and Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s ban on standard capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds will not be part of the baseline package, but will be given amendatory consideration, according to Reid.
Paul is no stranger to filibustering to highlight controversial issues. Earlier this month, the Kentucky lawmaker protested the Obama administration’s wishy-washy position on drone strikes against Americans on U.S. soil. To express his discontent with the White House, Paul spent 13 hours on the Senate floor filibustering the official appointment of CIA Director of John Brenan.
Although Brenan got appointed, Paul’s filibuster – which was actually assisted by Cruz and Lee who asked him questions so he didn’t have to speak the entire time – forced Attorney General Eric Holder to clarify the administration’s stance on drone strikes. In short, it was a symbolic win for those who still believe in the U.S. Constitution.
In response to the letter, a spokesman for Reid recalled to the Huffington Post the Obama meme that gun control measures “deserve a vote” in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting.
“While this threat is entirely unsurprising, it’s outrageous that these Senators are unwilling to even engage in a debate over gun violence in America,” said Reid’s spokesman Adam Jentleson.
“No matter your opinion on this issue, we should all be able to agree with President Obama when he said that the children and teachers of Newtown, along with all other Americans who have been victims of gun violence, at least deserve a vote,” he continued.
Here’s the full text of the letter:
Dear Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,
We, the undersigned, intend to oppose any legislation that would infringe on the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms, or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens’ rights to self-defense. It speaks to history’s lesson that government cannot be in all places at all times, and history’s warning about the oppression of a government that tries.
We will oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions.
Will a filibuster help kill Reid’s gun control package?
At this point, it’s too soon to tell. Again, it’ll depend upon what the package ends up looking like. If it includes a universal background check provision that calls for a national registry of law-abiding gun owners, there’s a decent chance that Reid will not have enough votes to terminate a filibuster.
Unfortunately, right now, all we can do is speculate and wait for further developments.