In a shocking upset for House Democrats, Republicans managed Wednesday to amend a bill aimed at strengthening background checks on gun purchase to include language requiring that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) get notified when an undocumented immigrant attempts to purchase a gun.
Democratic leadership failed to whip enough votes against the procedural hurdle, which passed by a 220-209 margin. Twenty-six Democrats joined Republicans during the floor vote.
The ICE move was aimed at putting moderate Democrats in swing districts in a difficult position.
"Hear me clearly — no matter what will be said in just a moment, no matter what the chairman or anyone else would say about this bill, if you vote no, you are voting to allow someone who should not have a firearm to get away with it and not be prosecuted for it," House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsJan. 6 panel releases contempt report on Trump DOJ official ahead of censure vote Lobbying world Sunday shows preview: Biden administration confronts inflation spike MORE (R-Ga.) said on the floor ahead of the vote, which was met with cheers from his GOP colleagues.
Judiciary Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerUnrequited rage: The demand for mob justice in the Rittenhouse trial Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Democrats prepare to grill oil execs Merkley, Warren and Markey sound alarm over 'dirty' hydrogen provision in climate deal MORE (D-N.Y.) shot back at Collins's remarks, arguing the language was unnecessary since the bill they were voting on requires background checks on all firearm purchases with certain exception including gifts for family members and transfers for hunting, gun ranges or self-defense purposes.
"Now, along comes this motion to recommit which is a total red herring, having nothing to do with the purpose of the bill, and says someone who fails a background check because he's illegally in this country, you should report that to ICE," Nadler said during debate.
"Well, first of all, if he fails a background check because he's illegally in the country, that means the system knows he's illegally in the country. It means they already know that — so what's the point of reporting him?"
The defectors on the measure included Democratic Reps. Cindy AxneCindy AxneTop House Democratic group launches six-figure ad campaign to sell infrastructure package State Democrat group teams up with federal lawmakers to elect down-ballot candidates Conservative group targeting House Democrats over SALT positions MORE (Iowa), Anthony Brindisi (N.Y.), Jim CostaJames (Jim) Manuel CostaProposed California maps put incumbents in jeopardy Democrats bullish they'll reach finish line this week Moderate Democrats press for score before vote on Biden package MORE (Calif.), Angie Craig (Minn.), Charlie CristCharles (Charlie) Joseph CristFlorida Republicans debate how far to push congressional remap DeSantis officially files paperwork for reelection bid Democrats brace for flood of retirements after Virginia rout MORE (Fla.), Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamPediatrician unveils challenge to GOP's Mace in South Carolina 'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection Top cyber Pentagon official overseeing defense contractor project placed on leave MORE (S.C.), Antonio DelgadoAntonio Ramon DelgadoAbortion rights group endorsing 12 House Democrats House GOP campaign arm releases ad hitting Democrats on IRS bank-reporting proposal US Chamber targets more House Democrats with ads opposing .5T bill MORE (N.Y.). Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerIowa Democrat drops bid to challenge Grassley after death of nephew Democrat Mike Franken launches challenge to Grassley in Iowa Trump says Grassley has his 'complete and total endorsement' MORE (Iowa), Jared Golden (Maine), Josh Gotteimer (N.J.), Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornHow will Biden's Afghanistan debacle impact NASA's Artemis return to the moon? Why does Rep. Johnson oppose NASA's commercial human landing system? The US's investment in AI is lagging, we have a chance to double it MORE (Okla.), Andy Kim (N.J.) Conor Lamb (Pa.), Susie LeeSuzanne (Susie) Kelley LeeMORE (Nev.), Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaAbortion rights group endorsing 12 House Democrats Group aligned with House GOP leadership targeting nine Democrats on spending vote The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Rising prices undercut Biden agenda MORE (Va.), Ben McAdams (Utah), Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyFlorida Republicans debate how far to push congressional remap Five takeaways: House passes Biden's sweeping benefits bill Overnight Energy & Environment — House passes giant climate, social policy bill MORE (Fla.), Tom O'Halleran (Ariz.), Collin PetersonCollin Clark Peterson Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Six ways to visualize a divided America On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 MORE (Minn.), Max RoseMax RoseMax Rose preparing for rematch with Nicole Malliotakis: report 'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection Overnight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage MORE (N.Y.), Kurt SchraderWalter (Kurt) Kurt SchraderFive takeaways: House passes Biden's sweeping benefits bill House passes giant social policy and climate measure Democrats press toward vote on massive Biden bill MORE (Ore.), Mikie SherrillRebecca (Mikie) Michelle SherrillDegrees not debt will grow the economy Abortion rights group endorsing 12 House Democrats Democrats at odds over SALT changes MORE (N.J.). Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinThree dead, six wounded in Michigan school shooting Taiwan says it is capable of responding to repeated Chinese military missions Five House members meet with Taiwanese president despite Chinese objections MORE (Mich.), Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerWith Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist On The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure MORE (Va.), Xochitl Torres Small (N.M.) and Jeff Van DrewJeff Van DrewLawmakers who bucked their parties on the T infrastructure bill Republicans hit Biden over Afghanistan, with eye on midterms GOP lawmaker called on Biden to 'resign immediately' after 'botched withdrawal' from Afghanistan MORE (N.J.).
The amendment's passage marks the second victory for Republicans during a procedural vote. Earlier this year, they managed to amend a resolution on Yemen to include language condemning anti-Semitism.
The full bill requiring background checks on all gun purchases passed the House 240-190 on Wednesday, with eight Republicans backing the measure and only two Democrats voting against it.
“There's no reason to continue to make it easy for people who are legally prohibited from possessing firearms to acquire them,” Nadler said during debate on the floor ahead of the vote.
“By circumventing the background check process. H.R. 8 would close this dangerous loophole and save many, many lives."