Virtually all the Hill coverage concerning anti-gun legislation has focused on a group of GOP senators promising to filibuster the legislation. But wait. What bill? Is this the Senate majority leader’s bill or a heretofore unknown substitute? And why would Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) file cloture this week (thereby setting up a filibuster) on a bill, the contents of which are unknown.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced he would join the group of senators who refuse to be given the bum’s rush through the gun legislative process. If Reid plunks down a bill and then wants to cut off debate, McConnell will have none of it.
His communications director Don Stewart told me Monday evening, “There is bipartisan opposition to the Reid bill, and we still don’t know if that’s the one [bill] that Sen. Reid will try to clear.” He added, “There’s been a whole lot of Democrats who have been very, very quiet about this bill.”
Meanwhile the president is out hollering to his faithful in Connecticut once again that they deserve a vote. But, a vote on what, Mr. President? There’s a good chance he doesn’t know at this point. But alas, as is invariably the case with President Obama, the more he talks the less he persuades. A new CNN poll shows support for his handling of the gun issue is down a point to 45 percent and disapproval ticked up three points to 52 percent. The bully pulpit seems to be on the fritz.
As on immigration, the urge to rush legislation, the contents of which are unknown to most of the Senate, is a grave error. It makes for bad legislation and it will alienate senators based on process who might actually be allies on some substance. Moreover, it is fruitless. The bill will go to the House and there are certain to be significant changes; whatever passes will have to come back to a conference committee for negotiation. So why jam something through now? You get the feeling it is being done purely to salve the president’s ego, to show his base he’s got his mojo back.
Republicans should keep their powder dry (so to speak), see what is in Reid’s bill and not be buffaloed into passing something for the sake of passing something. This is not the end of the road; it’s not even half-way down it.