The Senate voted 65 to 34 to end a Republican-led filibuster on the gun reform package, clearing another important hurdle, with final Senate passage coming as early as later Thursday.
Senators were working on an agreement that would allow them to expedite the process and schedule a final vote Thursday night instead of waiting the obligatory 30 hours after a filibuster vote.
Then the House could pick up the package and pass it by the end of the week.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted in favor of breaking the filibuster on the bipartisan gun control package Thursday afternoon
President Joe Biden said Monday he was ready to sign the gun bill, but he’s flying to Germany and then onto Spain Saturday morning for G7 and NATO meetings, so it’s unclear if he’ll have time to sign the legislation before he departs.
The vote comes after an initial 64-34 procedural vote taken in the Senate Tuesday night, with 14 Republicans joining 50 Democrats in voting in the affirmative.
Among those voting for the bill was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell said it was a ‘commonsense package of popular steps that will help make these horrifying incidents less likely while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.’
Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn was one of the chief negotiators, as there were fresh calls for stricter gun control laws in the aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting.
The same group of Republicans voted in favor of breaking the filibuster Thursday, with the addition of Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, who wasn’t on hand for the first vote.
Other Republicans who voted yea include Sens. Roy Blunt, Richard Burr, Shelley Moore Capito, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Joni Ernst, Lindsey Graham, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Mitt Romney, Thom Tillis and Todd Young.
The 80-page compromise legislation would toughen background checks for younger gun buyers, bolster background check requirements and beef up penalties for gun traffickers.
The bill would also prohibit romantic partners convicted of domestic abuse who are not married to their victims from getting firearms.
Convicted abusers who are married to, live with or had children with their victims are already barred from having guns.
Additionally, $750million would be provided to the 19 states that have ‘red flag’ laws making it easier to temporarily take firearms from people adjudged dangerous, and to other states with violence prevention programs.
States with ‘red flag’ laws that receive the funds would have to have legal processes for the gun owner to fight the firearm’s removal.
The bill would disburse money to states and communities to improve school safety and mental health initiatives.
On Wednesday, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives encouraged colleagues to vote against it.
‘This legislation takes the wrong approach in attempting to curb violent crimes. House Republicans are committed to identifying and solving the root causes of violent crimes, but doing so must not infringe upon’ Second Amendment rights,’ House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said in a notice telling House GOP members to vote against the legislation.
Still, some moderate House Republicans are expected to vote in favor of the bill.
In a statement Tuesday, the National Rifle Association came out against the bill saying it ‘falls short at every level.’
‘It does little to truly address violent crime while opening the door to unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom by law-abiding gun owners,’ the statement said. ‘This legislation can be abused to restrict lawful gun purchases, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans, and use federal dollars to fund gun control measures being adopted by state and local politicians.’
The Senate vote took place just hours after the Supreme Court struck down a New York state law that made people give ‘proper cause’ if they wanted to carry a handgun in public.
The fresh ruling opens to door to permitting all law-abiding Americans to carry concealed and loaded handguns in public.