Wednesday's New York Times' lead story by Jennifer Steinhauer and Jonathan Weisman, "Threat To Block Debate On Guns Appears To Fade – Reid Sets Senate Vote – Some G.O.P. Senators Reject Filibuster, but Hurdles Remain," hyped the prospects of Obama's gun-control legislation while foreseeing a possible "egg-on-the-face moment" for conservatives who tried to filibuster the legislation.
Several Senate Republicans said Tuesday that they would not participate in a filibuster of the first major gun control bill since 1993, as Democrats appeared on the verge of overcoming a blockade threatened by a group of conservatives before a word of debate on the measure was uttered.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said he would schedule an initial showdown vote for Thursday. If backers of the measure can corral at least 60 votes, the Senate will begin consideration of a series of gun safety proposals -- strongly supported by President Obama -- that would still face a long and difficult journey across the Senate floor.
Still, eking out the first 60 votes would represent momentum for the bill’s supporters in the Senate, and an egg-on-the-face moment for those Republican senators, led by some younger conservatives, who chose to highlight their efforts to kill the bill before debate, a procedural move usually done more stealthily.
Thirteen senators, led by a core of younger conservatives, had vowed to try to block any legislation that they saw as infringing on the constitutional right to bear arms.
“There’s an irony to the calls for ‘let’s have debate.’ We are having debate right now,” said Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas and one of the original authors of the letter declaring an intent to filibuster. “And the reason why I and others have written to the majority leader and said we will insist on a 60-vote threshold is to safeguard the Bill of Rights. The Constitution is our founding document, and it protects the rights of Americans even when the passions of the moment intrude.”
Republicans have voted to block debate on bills scores of times over the last few years. But they usually do so without bragging. The favorable attention put on Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, for his 13-hour filibuster this year on John O. Brennan’s nomination to be C.I.A. director seemed to change Republican thinking on the tactic. Lawmakers issued news releases and boasted about their efforts to block debate on the gun bill despite some popular provisions. The campaign, appeared to backfire as it drew attention to what some view as a distasteful way of killing bills before they enjoy a robust debate.