Reid tables gun control bill after defeat on background checks

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that the Senate would put aside the gun control bill to start work on other legislative matters.

“It’s only a matter of time before we bring this anti-gun-violence measure back to the floor for a vote,” Reid said Thursday. “The stand of the Republicans is not sustainable.”

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Reid said Democrats knew passing gun control measures would be an uphill battle.

"We knew all along that efforts to pass stronger background checks and keep guns out of the hands of criminals wouldn’t be easy," Reid said. "But it's worth the effort."

Democrats called for stricter gun laws after a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December.

For the past two weeks the Senate has been working on the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act, S.649, which would expand background checks on gun purchases, crack down on gun trafficking and beef up security in schools. On Wednesday, a bipartisan amendment from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) failed on a 54-46 vote, short of the needed 60 votes. 

Only four Republicans joined most Democrats in supporting the measure, which could have served as a compromise to move the larger gun control bill forward.

“Yesterday, the families of gun violence victims watched as Republicans defeated a common-sense proposal to expand background checks that has the support of 90 percent of Americans,” Reid said. “Republicans once again filibustered a common-sense proposal.”

Reid said that tabling the bill would allow the Senate to skip procedural hurdles when it returns to the measure after more negotiations off the floor.

"Make no mistake, this debate is not over. In fact, this fight is just beginning," Reid said. "I've spoken with the president. He and I agree that the best way to keep working towards passing a background check bill is to hit a pause and freeze the background check bill where it is."

Reid filed a cloture motion on the Marketplace Fairness Act, S. 743, a bill that would allow states to collect online sales taxes. The Senate is likely to begin votes on that bill next week.

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