Gun fight upends hunting bill

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Senate Republicans and Democrats blocked progress on a bipartisan hunting and fishing bill Thursday after Democratic leaders refused to bow to their demands for amendments related to guns.

The Senate failed in a 41-56 vote to end debate on the measure, which would make it easier to hunt and fish on federal lands. Sixty votes were needed to end debate.

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Both Republicans and Democrats have demanded amendments related to gun control on the bill. Democrats want to vote on measures that would tighten gun control, while several GOP senators had offered pro-gun amendments.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) accused Republicans of filibustering their own bill given the fact that more than half the GOP conference is co-sponsoring the legislation.

"People who sponsored this bill voted against it," he said.

Republicans, who have repeatedly criticized Reid for not allowing amendments to legislation, said they were objecting because they wanted to offer their measures. 

“When we don’t get amendments we don’t let the bill pass,” Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said ahead of the vote. 

Most of the "no" votes on Thursday came from the GOP side, but 11 votes also came from Democrats, highlighting the irritation on both sides of the aisle. 

Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Ed Markey (Mass.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Bob Menendez (N.J.) and Barbara Boxer (Calif.) voted against moving forward on Thursday. So did Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate.

Signs that gun control could upend the otherwise non-controversial bill emerged on Monday when a number of Democrats voted against moving forward in an 82-12 vote because the bill lacked gun control measures. 

The bill's chief backer is Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), and Reid had hoped to use this week's debate to bolster her tough reelection fight. 

The Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act would also reauthorize wetland and fishing conservation programs and would allow online sales of duck stamps. 

The bill was backed by several conservation groups and the National Rifle Association (NRA), which blamed Reid for the failure of the legislation.

"The National Rifle Association is disappointed that the bipartisan sportsmen’s bill has fallen victim to Sen. Harry Reid's political agenda. By refusing to allow a reasonable amendment process, Sen. Reid effectively killed this legislation — a bill with substantive measures that would have enriched America’s hunting and sporting heritage," said Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA's legislative arm.

This story was updated at 3:12 p.m.