16 GOP Senators Being Denounced for Their Vote Did What, Exactly?

Yesterday 16 Republican Senators, including both Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker from Tennessee, joined Democrats in voting to begin debate on legislation expanding background checks on gun purchases. With 68 votes to begin debate, a threatened GOP filibuster was stopped before it started.

Grassroots reaction was both swift and pointed.

Grassfire.com wrote, “Sen. Harry Reid’s gun-control legislation has cleared the first hurdle … bringing the creation of a national gun registry and the outright confiscation of your firearms closer to reality.”

The TN Campaign for Liberty wrote, “After having dinner with President Obama last night, Senator Lamar Alexander then voted this morning to advance Obama’s gun control scheme.”

Listening to the critiques one might assume these Senators are, even now, fueling up the black choppers and SUVs to dispatch them for quiet conversations with Americans about their guns.

But what did they do, exactly?

They did not vote for a bill that infringed on the 2nd Amendment Rights of Americans. They voted to begin debate on a bill that would infringe on the 2nd Amendment Rights of Americans. Support for having the debate is not the same as supporting the bill.

For example, Grassfire.com notes both the NRA and the ACLU believe the Toomey-Manchin bill is unconstitutional. This is a powerful fact which deserves attention. There are voices respected by both sides of the political divide opposing the bill.

However, a letter issued by Chris Cox of the NRA stating they would negatively “score” cloture votes on the issue was misread by many. The vote in question is not today’s vote but an upcoming cloture vote needed to move the bill to an actual vote. Even the Lefties at Slate got that one wrong. Bottom line is that while the NRA is opposed to the bill, they are not beating up Senators who voted to debate it.

And neither am I.

There are any number of folks eager to have this debate; eager to have Democrats and liberal Republicans explain how what they are doing passes constitutional muster. They want amendments and recorded votes for later use against 2nd Amendment haters and gun detractors. Some of those folks voted for cloture yesterday to make that reality possible. That does not mean they will vote for a necessary second cloture vote to close debate and move to voting for passage or defeat on the actual bill.

In fact, some Senators voted for cloture to open debate while remaining committed to opposing Toomey-Manchin and the ongoing assault on the 2nd Amendment.

Oklahoma’s Tob Coburn is one.

Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is another. He said, “I’ll examine each amendment to determine whether it strengthens or infringes upon our Second Amendment rights … The Toomey-Manchin proposal to expand background checks in my opinion doesn’t meet that test and I will vote against it.”

So is Tennessee’s Bob Corker who said, “I don’t understand why any senator wouldn’t want to debate these issues, but in the end, I will not support any legislation that violates our Second Amendment rights.”

These Senators voted to begin debate. They were not signalling their support for the measure being debated. They certainly don’t seem to be “advanc[ing] Obama’s gun control scheme.”

It may be that when it comes time to vote on the actual bill that one or more of them will vote for a bad piece of legislation. If they do, I will be the first to call them out on it. But this is not that vote. Nor can it be used to predict a future vote.

For that, we should watch the debate process, note the amendments offered, the questions asked, the follow-ups and the positions staked out. Eventually we will need to watch a cloture vote – the one to close debate. If that one passes, no sure thing as many do not, the actual vote on the measure will be the defining one.

To now excoriate Senators for voting to do what the Senate is supposed to do – consider and debate – seems also to be bad behavior. I cannot and will not condone it or participate.

That having been said, I’m sure there are any number of my friends who will disagree with me. I look forward to your thoughts in the comment section.

Ken Marrero

The Blue Collar Muse

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  • Patrick Budowski

    There should not even be a debate on the 2nd. Seems silly to me to punish law abiding citizens because of the actions of a criminal or someone who is mentally unfit.
    We have enough issues to deal with besides wasting time on a bill that is fueled by emotions. If they had tried to send this bill to the floor before the murder of those little kids it would have gotten no attention nor would it even made it out of committee

    • Blue Collar Muse

      Patrick –

      I agree that this is getting attention because of the Newtown shooting. Absent that we probably don’t even have this legislation to be considered.

      Having said that, I have to note, however, that there is always a side of a bill with which we disagree. Or at least most of the time. Which begs the question, based on your contention, why introduce any bill at all?

      If we introduced a bill permitting Vermont style carry across the nation (something I’d support, by the way) would you object that we shouldn’t be debating 2A? Would you not want to have that debate because others might not agree with it?

      How is that qualitatively different from this?

      The other question is, if we should not be debating this, how far do we carry the notion? Should Lee, Rubio and others refuse to participate in the upcoming debate and votes on this bill in the name of not having anything to do with this matter? Will you criticize them if they do or do you expect them to be part of the debate and to argue for your 2A rights? In the end, that is what is happening.

      The votes I will be watching will be the second required cloture vote – the one the NRA will score – and, of course, any vote on this bill that is taken should it make it past the second cloture.

      • herddog505

        Blue Collar MuseIf we introduced a bill permitting Vermont style carry across the nation (something I’d support, by the way) would you object that we shouldn’t be debating 2A?

        There’s a difference between debating how we can infringe on the right and how we might expand it. The basic test: does it expand liberty, or does it, even for the most altruistic of purposes, limit it? If the latter, then there had better be a damned good reason, and the fact that DiFi is afraid of black rifles isn’t it.

        • Blue Collar Muse

          So then the issue isn’t really IF there should be a debate on 2A issues, it’s a question of what that debate should consist of?

          That’s a very different proposition from saying, as Chef did, that there shouldn’t even be a debate. Which highlights the problem.

          How do we talk about 2A issues if we are afraid that the very introduction of the debate means we risk losing?

          A related question is how valid is it to condemn someone for doing something we don’t like but which is not, in and of itself, wrong?

          I agree with Rush that we win when we push our agenda. Conservatism works, every time it is tried. I’m for having this debate and letting Conservatism and unalienable rights the chance to work.

          I know there are risks, but there are risks in getting out of bed in the morning. Yet here we all are.

          • Conservachef

            Hey, you make it sound like I’m a bad guy for not wanting them to debate infringing my 2A rights! (ha- just poking at you)

            My analogy is this: You’ve got a cockroach (gun-grabbing legislation) that’s on the floor. Do you (a) stomp on it and stop it from getting away, or (b) let it run around for a minute before trying to stomp on it, hoping that it doesn’t make it to some nook or cranny that you can’t reach?

            In this case, I don’t think that we’re truly pushing our agenda, as your Rush reference mentions. I think we’re responding to an attack, in which case we need to eloquently, effectively stop it as quickly as possible.

            Anyway, as it was just a vote on cloture and not a final vote, I’m not going to castigate them too badly for it. It just shows that you really have to keep an eye on those shifty politicians…

          • herddog505

            What is the pro-2A “agenda” but “leave me the hell alone”?

            If we were pushing to force people to carry or keep a rifle in their house, I could see that they’d have a complaint. But that’s not the case: we are the aggrieved party, facing the curtailment (if not outright elimination; I think that’s what the lefties are ultimately after) of our rights because we’re being blamed for the actions of a handful of lunatics.

          • Conservachef

            Herddog, it’s not a recent development. Back when the ’94 ban was coming around, DiFi (I think it was her) said that (paraphrasing) “If I could take them all away right now, I would round ’em up!”

          • Blue Collar Muse

            LOL – i –had– to give you a +1 for the cockroach analogy!! LOVE it … more later

          • herddog505

            Blue Collar MuseHow do we talk about 2A issues if we are afraid that the very introduction of the debate means we risk losing?

            First of all, I can’t imagine why this is being debated in the Congress at all: they really have no constitutional authority in the matter. Now, if they want to chit-chat about it in their office or the hall, that’s fine: they are Americans (as hard as it is to believe) and have the same rights as the rest of us have. But for them to debate how they can infringe on our rights, it seems to me, is rather akin to criminal conspiracy: “How can we break the law?” is not a “debate” that should be allowed.

            As for how we talk about the RKBA… the only reason to talk about it is to try to defend it from a pack of wannabe tinpots or imbecilic do-gooders who want to take it away. I don’t, for example, think there’s any reason to talk about the drinking a Big Gulp… until some jerk tries to tell me that I CAN’T have one. I don’t think there’s any reason to talk about how wonderful it is to take a plane flight for business or pleasure… until somebody starts putting his hands all over my wife as a condition of boarding the aircraft.

            In other words, I really don’t expect to see liberty debated as it’s self-evidently a nice thing to have just as I don’t expect to have to try to convince people that they ought to breath or eat. Unfortunately, there are too damned many people in the country (both sides of the aisle) who are perfectly happy to take away the liberty to do this or that “for the good of society”. Pricks.

            In this case, however, we find ourselves in the position of having to defend something that is not only in the Constitution, but is to my mind an obvious good idea: the right to bear arms – the most effective arms available – for defense of self, family, community, country, and rights. That we have to try to explain to a pack of dishonest lackwits that it’s (ahem) undesirable for people to deliberately place themselves at the mercy of any hoodlum or group of jackbooted thugs who come along is astonishing – nay, nauseating – to me.

  • stan25

    This coming gun control debate is the way the Senate and House are supposed do things. Unlike ObamaCare, that got rammed down our throats in a back room and in the middle of the night, this debate will be out in the open so that everyone can see what is going on. This open debate is what the founders intended. We all know that O would like to bypass the Congress on this one too, but there are too many angry people out there to do that. In the end this bill will be defeated by a huge margin.

    • linscottsdale

      The founders also never anticipated that reps would be holding debate on the Bill of Rights — those were thought to be “inalienable”, remember? Some common sense concessions have been made on the 2nd Amendment, like not letting individuals have a nuke, for example, but this “debate” is not only about a basic right that is not even supposed to be up for discussion (the 2nd), there are also implications here for the 4th, 5th, and 10th Amendments. These senators deserve whatever venom and backlash they get.

      • Blue Collar Muse

        Actually Scotty … the Bill of Rights was incredibly lengthily and hotly debated … It’s how we got it in the first place.

        That we now are tasked with defending it again ought not be a cause for fear or anger but a cause for patriot pride and riding towards the sound of gunfire (gun reference intended). Because while WE may not believe this is an issue that should even be whispered – there are a lot of others who are busy shouting loudly about it.

        Some of that debate is taking place in the public arena and some in private and some in the legislative arena. We ought to be eager to engage the enemy whenever and wherever he stirs up trouble.

        • I disagree completely. While debate is healthy and hopefully productive, there needs to be a concrete set of basic rules that aren’t subject to the caprices of trends and emotions, which this gun debate always is; the Bill of Rights is clear and fundamental, and has had enough concessions glossed on it.

          The issue now is gun CRIME, not gun OWNERSHIP, so the debate ought to focus on the gun CRIME, not on more ways to let the government infringe upon a basic right of citizens. And when/if it ever does, we can debate the causes of the gun crime, and what we should expect when we leave the urban poor hopeless after generations of government dependency, where, robbed of their dignity, all they have left is emptiness and violence — or, the wisdom of drugging children because they won’t sit still — or the impact of the breakdown of the family — or the impact of violent TV and video games — and so on, until we get to the bottom of the gun CRIME. It is utterly asinine and unacceptable to pass more gun LAWS that criminals won’t follow any more than they the follow the laws already in place.

          NO, these 16 senators deserve the venom and political damage they get. I, for one, have had enough of John McCain’s “my friends” nonsense; he is being played like a fiddle by Team 0bama and progressives, and has been since the 2008 election.

          • That said, there is a certain satisfaction to be had from FORCING some of these Red State Democrats to cast a vote on this issue.

    • linscottsdale

      The founders also never anticipated that reps would be holding debate on the Bill of Rights — those were thought to be “inalienable”, remember? Some common sense concessions have been made on the 2nd Amendment, like not letting individuals have a nuke, for example, but this “debate” is not only about a basic right that is not even supposed to be up for discussion (the 2nd), there are also implications here for the 4th, 5th, and 10th Amendments. These senators deserve whatever venom and backlash they get.

  • Conservachef

    My problem with even this small (procedural) vote to move forward is my cynicism and mistrust of politicians. For something as important as the 2nd Amendment, I don’t want to see an infringement of it move forward at all. I want to stomp on that type of legislation as early as possible so that nothing scurries out of reach or slips through the cracks.

    Anyway, that’s just my $0.02, and I fully expect that many of the R’s that voted for cloture will vote against these amendments.

    • Blue Collar Muse

      Chef –

      And you are absolutely correct to not trust anyone blindly with doing the right thing. Citizen monitoring of their elected officials – or more accurately lack of same – is what got us in this mess in large measure.

      It’s an inescapable flaw in the good way we do our government. Government is supposed to secure our rights while we live our lives. But when we turn our attention away from DC to live those lives, we crack the door on pols doing weird things to our rights while we are not looking.

      So we are both engaged with our delegations and will be standing firm against any infringement on our rights. That much is clear.

      Thanks for being a watchman on the walls.

  • grayjohn

    What they did was commit treason by going along with the attack on the second amendment.

    • Does not rise to the level of “treason” under the Constitution.

      Despicable and a clear violation of their oath of office, but not treason.

  • linscottsdale

    The only debate they should be having is a debate about why we would even be debating the Bill of Rights. Enough concessions have been made on the 2nd Amendment. I am furious with these senators.

  • herddog505

    I appreciate your thoughtful take on this. However, I agree with others below who believe that the Republican senators have basically sold out gunowners and the Constitution.

    “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” is a pretty clear statement. Agreeing to debate on whether or not we’re going to infringe it – in this case, TO WHAT EXTENT we’re going to infringe it – is odious on its face. If I may engage in hyperbole, it’s rather like agreeing to discuss with a convicted rapist how he plans to spend an evening with your daughter: some things are not open to “debate”.

    I would also like to remind you and others of (IIRC) what happened with McCain-Feingold. Those wankers in the Congress passed it, and President Bush signed it, thinking that it was an easy political victory (“See! I’m for taking dirty money out of politics!”) that would be overturned by the Supreme Court. SURPRISE! We let the Congress “debate” the First Amendment, and now look where we are.

    Those democrats in the Congress, along with the jugeared idiot in the White House and his brain-damaged VP, are lying, cheating, deceitful, treacherous, backstabbing, faithless, dishonest, scheming mother f*ckers who will stick at nothing to get their way. With debate open, who knows what Trashcan Chuckie or DiFi will slide into the bill? Who knows whether Bloomers will pay off some other Benedict Arnold Toomey to say “yes” to “common sense” measures that will see me and other gun owners turned into felons? Who knows whether Yosemite Sam and Grahamnesty will be offered enough appearances on the Sunday morning shows to get them to “compromise?

    Again, some things aren’t open to debate, and for good reason: the people having the debate are the most dishonest, untrustworthy crowd of thieves and cheats and liars this side of La Cosa Nostra. This is why we have enumerated powers and the Bill of Rights in the first place: the Founding Fathers understood that the people, through their elected representatives, were perfectly capable of voting themselves into slavery.

    Even discussing limiting the Second Amendment (already badly tattered) is just another step towards the chains.

  • 914

    Anytime the current crop of clowns decide to stick their noses in something we lose more liberty’s.. Screws them all.

  • My take on this is it’s a classic example of giving someone enough rope to hang themselves – or putting it another way…

    “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.”

    A lot of Democratic senators with elections coming up are looking at this with trepedation. They KNOW if it comes to a vote on this they’ve got two choices – to go with the party and vote for it and then be screwed in 2014 which will likely result in a Republican majority in the Senate which would lead to a swift dismantling of this piece of garbage, or vote with Republicans against it and be screwed by their party in 2014.

    Add in the skyrocketing problems with Obamacare, which the DEMOCRATS pushed through without a single Republican vote – and those 16 senators who voted to begin debate on this just delivered a hard kick to the nuts to the Democratic party.

    Now the Dems are damned if they do and damned if they don’t – they’re not going to be able to vote ‘present’. And once they commit, one way or the other, they’re in trouble.

    • jim_m

      I think a lot of senators were counting on the GOP stopping this at cloture. Now they are faced with having to actually cast a vote for or against it. Many of the GOP who voted for cloture will not vote to pass. The question is whether or not the dems will have both the votes to pass it and the courage to cast those votes.

      The fact that this is DOA on the House floor is immaterial. Red state senators like Landrieu will have to cast a vote and that is something she and others like her have been trying to avoid

      • herddog505

        Why? They get away with “evolving” on gay marriage. Why not expect them to get away with “evolving” on gun control?

        • jim_m

          The MSM will give them a pass regardless of how they vote because they are dems. But the majority of voters who support 2A rights will not forget.

      • LiberalNightmare

        Everyone wants to talk about all of the red state democrats that will have to vote against this. No ones talking about the repercussions for the blue state republicans that will have to vote for this one.

        I’m tired of politicians using my rights as the ante in some massive game of screw the voter. They win another term at the federal tit and I win the right to free birth control.


        • jim_m

          Because the blue state republicans are the ones that ARE voting in favor of this bill. They have less to lose by voting for it than a red state dem does.

          • LiberalNightmare

            So whats the point of having a republican in a blue state, if they vote like democrats for the hard votes?

  • MartinLandauCalrissian

    My problem is that these 16 GOP Sens voted to stop the filibuster based on a bill that they had not seen and did not yet exist (the Manchin/Toomey compromise).

    • jim_m

      These senators would have caved regardless. THis was about trying to appeal to a media that will always hate the GOP regardless of their actions. They have not come to the realization that they can never make the media happy.

    • herddog505

      An even newer step in American legislation:

      We’ve gone from “we’ve got to pass it to see what’s in it” to “we’ve got to pass it to even write it”.

      Does anybody know if there are 535 lamp posts in DC? Just in case…

  • Conservachef

    Some text of the proposed bill, that is now open for debate:

    Amends the Brady Act to prohibit any person who does not hold a federal
    firearms license from transferring a firearm to any other unlicensed
    person unless a licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer: (1) has
    first taken possession of the firearm for the purpose of complying with
    national instant criminal background check requirements; and (2) upon
    taking possession, complies with all firearms requirements as if
    transferring the firearm from the licensee’s inventory to the unlicensed
    transferee. Specifies exceptions, including for: (1) bona fide gifts between
    immediate family members; (2) a transfer from a decedent’s estate…


    So unless you die or give it to an immediate family member, they want you to do the transfer through an FFL, background check and all.

    Also of note,

    Prohibits the Department of Justice (DOJ) and any of its law enforcement
    coordinate agencies from conducting any operation where a federal
    firearms licensee is directed or encouraged to sell firearms to an
    individual if DOJ or a coordinate agency knows or has reasonable cause
    to believe that such individual is purchasing such firearms on behalf of
    another for an illegal purpose, unless the Attorney General, the Deputy
    Attorney General, or the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal
    Division approves the operation in writing and determines that the
    agency has prepared an operational plan to prevent firearms from being
    transferred to third parties without law enforcement taking reasonable
    steps to lawfully interdict those firearms.

    So… They added a CYA provision for any future Fast & Furious operations…

  • Par4Course

    What if this were a 1st Amendment issue? Would it be acceptable to allow debate on requiring anyone who spoke or published their opinions to pass a background check and register with the federal government? I would hope not. In view of the position of these Senators, I don’t plan to give any money to the GOP in the near future, limiting my contributions to candidates, PACs or other conservative groups.

    • herddog505

      Par4CourseWhat if this were a 1st Amendment issue? Would it be acceptable to allow debate on requiring anyone who spoke or published their opinions to pass a background check and register with the federal government?

      Excellent point! I think we can safely bet that DCNN wouldn’t devote two days of broadcasting in support of such a bill, and thus would not get a hearty “thanks for your support!” from the bill’s sponsor.

  • Vagabond661

    It is beyond my comprehension that we are discussing a national registry of guns and we don’t need to see an ID to vote. There no real Republicans, just wishy washy democrats and principled democrats.

    • jim_m

      That’s easy. It is about stuffing the ballot box and disarming those who would stand against such destruction of our nation.

  • retired military

    I understand the author’s comments but to be honest I am tired of getting shafted by the GOP. McCain, and Graham chief among them.

    • Vagabond661

      We expect the Democrats to do stuff we don’t like. We don’t expect the GOP to do stuff we don’t like. The border is porous. We have lost quality control.

  • donwalk

    Marrero, you are dumb as a rock! Why should their even be a debate about attacking or weakening Constitutional rights? These 16 citizens are doing nothing but playing politics with our constitutional rights – cowards, every one of them and you have fallen from the same tree.

    • Blue Collar Muse

      Well, Don …

      Thank you so very much for moving the conversation forward from the defense of our rights to the content of my character.

      You may know a great deal about one of those topics but you haven’t a clue about the other.

      I’ll leave you to figure out which one is which …


      • donwalk

        You failed to answer the question as to why there should even be a debate over something that weakens our constitutional rights.
        I question anyone who wants to debate our constitutional rights as it show a weak foundation when it comes to their belief and faith in something that is so clear.
        Again, those 16 are doing nothing but playing politics, trying to make themselves look liberal and conservative at the same time and that is a very dangerous game that only encourages additional attacks on our rights and creates a perception that conservative beliefs are open to negotiation, as well as constitutional rights.
        Promoting debate on our Constitution Amendments, and our Bill of Rights is a dangerous game.

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  • Idahoser

    if we still had a Senate, this never would have come up for debate. Senators should again represent the STATES, which makes them once again the only force capable and motivated to oppose runaway federal government.