Yes, There Is An Actual Gun Control Bill That’s Been Written
I’m seeing lots of tweets and blog posts wondering how the Senate could invoke cloture on a bill that hasn’t been written yet (I made that mistake myself at one point).
Most of it seems to trace back to a statement from Senators Rubio, Lee and Cruz.
This morning the Senate will vote on the motion to proceed to the firearms bill (S.649). It is expected that the Toomey-Manchin provision announced yesterday will replace the current language regarding background checks. Yet, as of this morning, not a single senator has been provided the legislative language of this provision. Because the background-check measure is the centerpiece of this legislation it is critical that we know what is in the bill before we vote on it. The American people expect more and deserve better.
Unfortunately, the effort to push through legislation that no one had read highlights one of the primary reasons we announced our intention to force a 60 vote threshold. We believe the abuse of the process is how the rights of Americans are systematically eroded and we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent it.
People seem to conflate the lack of language on the Toomey-Manchin amendment with the underlying bill. That’s a mistake.
The current bill (pdf), includes Section 122 which would impose universal background checks on any sale of a firearm and almost all transfers. Toomey-Manchin (or as I call is Schumer-Toomey) will be offered as an amendment to that section.
Rubio, Cruz and Lee are saying they need to see the language of an amendment before they would allow a bill to come to the floor. That puts the cart before the horse. The reason bills come to the floor is to be debated and amended. There will be amendments other than Schumer-Toomey and there’s no guarantee Schumer-Toomey will pass. This is simply the legislative process in the Senate (or at least how it’s supposed to work. The GOP rightly complains when Harry Reid short circuits these procedures).
I don’t like the politics of what Toomey did in co-authoring this amendment but I’m not a fan of pre-debate filibusters either. I also don’t like it when “our side” goes out and plays fast and loose with the facts any more than I am when Democrats do it.