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 CornynOn The Money: Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan | Democrats debate tax hikes on wealthy | Biden, Congress target semiconductor shortage Hillicon Valley: Biden nominates former NSA deputy director to serve as cyber czar | Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after all | Biden pressed on semiconductor production amid shortage Lawmakers, industry call on Biden to fund semiconductor production amid shortage MORE (R-Texas) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinCaitlyn Jenner exploring bid for California governor: report WokeWorld comes for 'oppressor' Obama: Activists rip school being named after 'deporter in chief' Senators press for answers in Space Command move decision 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 ReidWhite House races clock to beat GOP attacks Harry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' The Memo: Biden seeks a secret weapon — GOP voters 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 AyotteOvernight Defense: NATO expanding troops in Iraq Overnight Defense: New START extended for five years | Austin orders 'stand down' to tackle extremism | Panel recommends Biden delay Afghanistan withdrawal Study group recommends Biden delay Afghanistan withdrawal 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 HeitkampBill Maher blasts removal of journalist at Teen Vogue Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Harrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment 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 McConnellTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Senate GOP opens door to earmarks McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' 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 ManchinNixed Interior nominee appointed to different department role  Against mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan Democrats face mounting hurdles to agenda MORE (W.Va.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEverybody wants Joe Manchin Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Biden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big MORE (Ind.) voted for Cornyn's proposal, while GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsAgainst mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan Trump's early endorsements reveal GOP rift The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings MORE (Maine), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFive reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain Former GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' MORE (Ariz.) and Kirk voted against it.