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 ThuneThis week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat Lawmakers want infrastructure funded by offshore tax reform Senate GOP hedges on ObamaCare repeal timeline 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 ReidAfter healthcare fail, 4 ways to revise conservative playbook Dem senator 'not inclined to filibuster' Gorsuch This obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all 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 SchumerTop House Intel Dem: Nunes should recuse himself Overnight Cybersecurity: New questions for House Intel chair over WH visit | Cyber war debate heats up | Firm finds security flaws in 'panic buttons' Schumer: Ryan should replace Nunes on Intel chair 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 BaucusGOP hasn’t reached out to centrist Dem senators Five reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination MORE (Mont.), Evan Bayh  (Ind.), Mark BegichMark BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (Alaska), Michael BennetMichael BennetTrump’s budget jeopardizes America’s public lands heritage Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (Colo.), Bob CaseyBob CaseySenators call for pay equity for US women's hockey team Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE Jr. (Pa.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Russ Feingold (Wis.), Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (N.C.), Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (S.D.), Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist MORE (La.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (Ark.), Jon TesterJon TesterUnder pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief urges Congress to approve budget boost | Senate fight over NATO addition MORE (Mont.), Tom UdallTom UdallThe Hill's 12:30 Report Dems introduce MAR-A-LAGO Act to publish visitor logs The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (N.M.), Mark UdallMark UdallGorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' Election autopsy: Latinos favored Clinton more than exit polls showed Live coverage: Tillerson's hearing for State MORE (Colo.), Mark WarnerMark WarnerTop Senate Intel Dem: Nunes's meeting on WH grounds 'more than suspicious' Sunday shows preview: Aftermath of failed healthcare bill Devin Nunes has jeopardized the oversight role of Congress 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 MikulskiAfter 30 years celebrating women’s history, have we made enough progress? DC restaurant owners sue Trump hotel over unfair competition: report Meet the Trump pick who could lead Russia probe 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.