Senate votes down closing 'terror loophole'
© Greg Nash

Senators rejected dueling proposals on blocking suspected terrorists from being able to buy a gun Monday, approximately a week after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Both proposals, from Sens. John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight Senate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Democrats make case to Senate parliamentarian for 8 million green cards MORE (R-Texas) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinRepublicans caught in California's recall trap F-35 fighter jets may fall behind adversaries, House committee warns Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Calif.) respectively, fell short of getting the 60 votes needed to move forward. Senators also rejected two background check measures — also offered as amendments to a commerce, justice and science appropriations bill — earlier Monday.


Democrats backed a proposal from Feinstein, which failed in a 47-53 vote.

Feinstein’s amendment would have allowed the attorney general to block the sale of a gun or explosive if there’s a “reasonable suspicion” an individual has or will be involved in a terrorist attack. It would allow the attorney general to block the sale of a gun to anyone under a terror investigation in the past five years.

Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDemocrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Biden looks to climate to sell economic agenda Justice Breyer issues warning on remaking Supreme Court: 'What goes around comes around' MORE (D-Nev.) praised the Democratic proposal earlier Monday, saying it would “close the terror loophole which allows suspected terrorists to illegally purchase weapons and explosives.”

Reid also blasted Republicans, saying they “need to put the lives of innocent Americans ahead of the NRA.”

Sens. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission  Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (R-Ill.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyottePoll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Sununu seen as top recruit in GOP bid to reclaim Senate MORE (R-N.H.), both of whom are up for reelection this year, voted with Democrats in favor of the amendment. Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampWashington's oldest contact sport: Lobbyists scrum to dilute or kill Democrats' tax bill Progressives prepare to launch counterattack in tax fight Business groups aim to divide Democrats on .5T spending bill MORE (N.D.) was the only Democrat to vote against it.

Republicans argue the Democratic measure is too broad and would harm Americans who aren’t tied to terrorism.

“We all agree that terrorists should not be able to purchase a weapon. That is not up for debate. Anybody who suggests that it is is simply misleading,” Cornyn said ahead of the vote. “The question before us is whether we’re going to do so in a way that’s constitutional.”

His own measure, which failed 53-47, would have allowed the attorney general to delay suspected terrorists from obtaining a gun for up to 72 hours to give the Justice Department time to investigate the prospective buyers and secure a court order to stop the transfer.

Any person investigated for possible terrorist ties within the past five years could be delayed from acquiring a firearm. The provision was added after gunman Omar Mateen — previously on a federal watchlist — killed 49 people and injured 53 others in a packed gay nightclub in Orlando.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 McConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE (R-Ky.) urged senators to support Cornyn’s measure, saying Democrats should resist pushing “a partisan agenda or [crafting] the next 30-second campaign ad.”

“We’ve offered proposals to help connect the dots with respect to terrorist communications. We’ve offered proposals to help address the threat of lone wolf attacks like the one we saw in Orlando,” he said.

But Democrats, and some Republicans, largely rejected the Texas senator’s proposal, arguing it would tie the hands of the federal government during terrorism cases. Democratic Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit Overnight Health Care — Presented by Indivior —Pfizer: COVID-19 vaccine safe for young kids MORE (W.Va.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyRepublicans may regret restricting reproductive rights Sanders traveling to Iowa, Indiana to pitch Biden's spending package Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda MORE (Ind.) voted for Cornyn's proposal, while GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike GOP senator will 'probably' vote for debt limit increase Welcome to ground zero of climate chaos MORE (Maine), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots MORE (Ariz.) and Kirk voted against it.