Senate Dems shoot down Thune’s gun amendment

Senate Democrats banded enough votes together Wednesday to defeat — barely — a Republican proposal to allow concealed weapons to be carried across state lines.

Voting 58-39, the chamber beat back an amendment by Sen. John ThuneJohn ThuneOvernight Finance: Lawmakers float criminal charges for Wells Fargo chief | Scrutiny on Trump's Cuba dealings | Ryan warns of recession if no tax reform Congress sends bill eliminating Olympic medal tax to Obama Four states sue to stop internet transition MORE (R-S.D.), a potential presidential hopeful who has taken on a growing role among Senate Republicans. Under a previous agreement between the two parties, the amendment needed 60 votes to pass.

Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidNo GOP leaders attending Shimon Peres funeral Overnight Regulation: Feds finalize rule expanding sick leave Anti-trade senators say chamber would be crazy to pass TPP MORE (D-Nev.) and 18 other Democrats, mostly from the West and Midwest, voted for Thune’s amendment.

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 The thin margin capped a furious whipping effort by Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal 78 lawmakers vote to sustain Obama veto MORE (D-N.Y.), who were seen talking closely with wavering Democrats on the floor right up until the vote.

Schumer, who led the effort to kill the amendment, issued a statement saying its defeat means “lives have been saved.”

“The passage of this amendment would have done more to threaten the safety of New Yorkers than anything since the repeal of the assault-weapons ban,” Schumer said.

The Democrats who supported Thune’s amendment were: Max BaucusMax BaucusChina moves to lift ban on US beef Overnight Healthcare: Zika fight stalls government funding talks | Census finds big drop in uninsured | Mental health bill faces wait Glover Park Group now lobbying for Lyft MORE (Mont.), Evan Bayh  (Ind.), Mark BegichMark BegichRyan's victory trumps justice reform opponents There is great responsibility being in the minority Senate GOP deeply concerned over Trump effect MORE (Alaska), Michael BennetMichael BennetEconomists have a message: Clinton's policies are wrong for America Senate rivals gear up for debates Grassley pulling away from Dem challenger MORE (Colo.), Bob CaseyBob CaseyOvernight Finance: Lawmakers float criminal charges for Wells Fargo chief | Scrutiny on Trump's Cuba dealings | Ryan warns of recession if no tax reform No GOP leaders attending Shimon Peres funeral Anti-trade senators say chamber would be crazy to pass TPP MORE Jr. (Pa.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Russ Feingold (Wis.), Kay HaganKay HaganPhoto finish predicted for Trump, Clinton in North Carolina Are Senate Republicans facing an election wipeout? Clinton's lead in NC elevates Senate race MORE (N.C.), Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonBank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting Housing groups argue Freddie Mac's loss should spur finance reform MORE (S.D.), Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuLouisiana needs Caroline Fayard as its new senator La. Senate contender books seven-figure ad buy Crowded field muddies polling in Louisiana Senate race MORE (La.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark PryorMark PryorCotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Top Democrats are no advocates for DC statehood MORE (Ark.), Jon TesterJon TesterElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal Overnight Finance: Senate rejects funding bill as shutdown looms | Labor Dept. to probe Wells Fargo | Fed to ease stress test rules for small banks MORE (Mont.), Tom UdallTom UdallTensions rise over judicial nominees Dem senator wants to change nomination rules amid Garland fight Dem senators back Navajo lawsuit against EPA MORE (N.M.), Mark UdallMark UdallColorado GOP Senate race to unseat Dem incumbent is wide open Energy issues roil race for Senate Unable to ban Internet gambling, lawmakers try for moratorium MORE (Colo.), Mark WarnerMark WarnerDemocrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal Democratic tax bill targets foreign reinsurance transactions Leahy wants Judiciary hearing on Yahoo MORE (Va.) and Jim Webb (Va.).

Two Republicans crossed over to vote against the amendment: Richard Lugar of Indiana and George Voinovich of Ohio.

Missing the vote were Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiSenate Dems: Add Flint aid to spending deal This week: Shutdown deadline looms over Congress Week ahead: Key court date for climate rule; Fight over Flint aid MORE (D-Md.), who is undergoing ankle surgery, Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who only returned to the Senate on Tuesday after a long hospitalization, and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who is battling brain cancer.

The vote was a rare defeat for the National Rifle Association, which was “scoring” the amendment as a key vote in its ratings of legislators. In a letter distributed to Congress on Tuesday, the NRA described the amendment as a way to push back against an increasingly hostile atmosphere for gun owners among state and local governments.

After the vote, the NRA in a release noted that a bipartisan majority of the Senate approved the amendment.

“While we are disappointed that the 60-vote procedural hurdle was not met, the vote shows that a bipartisan majority agrees with the NRA,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox. “The efforts of these senators were not in vain, as the NRA will continue to work tirelessly to ensure this important legislation finds the right avenue to come before Congress once again.”

The vote was also a slight defeat for Thune, who this summer became GOP Policy chairman — the fourth-ranking position in Senate Republican leadership — after Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) resignation from the post. Thune has also been an emerging voice on the Employee Free Choice Act and has started a website opposing Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

One lesser-noticed aspect of Wednesday’s vote: the influence of a coalition of U.S. mayors who worked hard against the amendment. Mayors Against Illegal Guns, co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, lobbied senators far more intensely than in other recent gun votes in the Senate. Lindsay Ellenbogen, a spokesman for Bloomberg, said the group “got out there and got our voice heard.”

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Bloomberg’s group paid for advertising, sent letters and made a flurry of calls, especially targeting Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Voinovich, both of whom voted against the bill. The coalition even funded an ad in Voinovich’s hometown newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, that ran Wednesday morning.

Bloomberg called the amendment “an intrusive and destructive bill.”

The bill would have allowed citizens with a concealed-weapons permit in one state to transfer that permit to other states. Thune described it repeatedly as a “common-sense” idea and said that permit-holders would still have to follow all laws of all states concerning firearms.

Thune was opposed on the Senate floor by Durbin, whose state would not have been affected. Illinois and Wisconsin are the only two states that do not issue or allow concealed-weapons permits.