Let’s be clear about this: The gun bill was filibustered, not defeated on a straight up-or-down vote
If you’re wondering why the bill on background checks for gun sales was defeated in the Senate yesterday when a majority of senators actually supported it, HERE‘s the answer:
Wednesday’s vote on expanding background checks for gun sales would have led to headlines in many other countries about a landslide victory. After all, 55-45 is not a particularly close vote.
That wide margin was achieved on background checks despite the unequal distribution of Senate votes, which are allocated two to a state regardless of population, thereby giving disproportionate power to rural areas that tend to oppose gun legislation.
Yet even 55-45 wasn’t enough to pass the amendment — not over the threat of a filibuster.
(Officially, the background check vote is recorded as 54-46. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) supported the measure, but voted against it in order to preserve the right to bring it back up.)
Following the 2012 election, the Senate had debated whether to reform the filibuster by forcing opponents of a bill, in the interests of open debate, to take the floor and speak in order to stop an up-or-down vote. That effort was defeated by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, led by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). All three voted for the doomed background checks measure.
Wednesday’s vote quickly led backers to bemoan the Senate rules requiring 60 votes to break a filibuster.
“Everything needs 60 votes today. This is supposed to be a majority body,” complained Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) after the amendment failed.