Failure of Background Check Amendment Shows Need for Senate Reform
Crossposted at Fix the Senate Now.
Because of the threat of a filibuster, the U.S. Senate today failed to pass the Manchin-Toomey amendment to expand background checks for certain types of gun sales, blocking the amendment by a 54-46 margin. Although the amendment received a majority of the Senate’s support, the amendment was subject to the same 60-vote threshold ordinarily reserved for ending filibusters.
In reaction, the Fix the Senate Now coalition said that requiring 60 votes to pass an amendment on an issue upon which 9-in-10 Americans agree underscores the need for Senate reform. Today’s proceedings also run counter to the supposed goal of the Senate leaders’ compromise agreement: to restore accountability and transparency to Senate debate. The following is a statement from Fix the Senate Now:
“Today’s vote is another unfortunate reminder that the U.S. Senate’s rules remain unworkable and in serious need of reform. That policies supported by 86% of Americans cannot even receive an up-or-down vote speaks to an inherent disconnect between the public’s appetite for action and the capacity of our legislative institutions' ability to deliver it.
“Senators intent on blocking popular policies such as expanded background checks should be forced to hold the floor and keep at least 40 of their colleagues on the floor with them. Instead, Senate rules and procedures made opposing Manchin-Toomey essentially costless and accountability-free.
“Today’s proceedings are just the latest reminder of the missed opportunity at the start of this 113th Congress to enact more substantial Senate rules reform and to raise the costs of obstruction in the Senate. Meaningful filibuster reform remains essential for the U.S. Senate to function properly.”
Brennan Center expert Diana Kasdan is available for comment. For more information, or to set up an interview, please contact Erik Opsal at email@example.com.