Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that the Senate will vote on “gun safety legislation” upon its return from its Memorial Day recess regardless of whether bipartisan negotiations “bear any fruit.” Senate Democrats operating on a slim majority would need to win bipartisan support in order to pass any such legislation.
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In the wake of the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that left at least 19 children and two adults dead, Senate Democrats are eager to vote on a gun bill but face steep odds to pass one. Any effort to pass new restrictions or reforms to existing laws would have to win bipartisan support in the Senate to reach the upper chamber’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and reach President Joe Biden’s desk.
“We are under no illusions that this will be easy,” Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor.
Schumer singled out Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) for reaching out to Republican colleagues to see what types of legislation they would support and said he was willing to give Murphy “a short amount of time to try.”
“None of us want to let this drag out,” Schumer said.
The bipartisan talks, he said, are “not an invite to negotiate indefinitely.”
“Make no mistake about it: If these negotiations do not bear fruit in a short period of time, the Senate will vote on gun legislation, gun safety legislation,” he said.
Some advocates of increased regulations on firearms have criticized Democrats for not attempting action on gun legislation while they have controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House for more than a year or the prospect of a doomed-to-fail show vote. Schumer earlier this week said he believes "accountability votes" can be important but suggested the public know where their senators stand on the issue.
Due to a razor-thin majority dependent on Vice President Kamala Harris's tiebreaking vote and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) continued opposition to doing away with the filibuster, Democrats cannot take unilateral action and would need to win enough Republican support to clear the filibuster threshold.
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Some Republican senators have indicated that they are open to debate on certain proposals, including red flag laws and enhanced background checks, but it remains to be seen whether a bipartisan deal could be reached.