Booker: ‘The most perverse version of Groundhog Day’ plays out in the Senate on guns

Gun Rights

“There’s conversations going on, and maybe something will come out of it,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the Republicans who may or may not be talking about maybe finding some kind of compromise with Democrats that could overcome a filibuster. “You just sort of chip away at this kind of stuff.”


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Chipping away at it while more children are killed by guns, the leading cause of death for children. I would suggest that after 20 years of this, chipping away is not the most effective tactic.

Predictably, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has been among those deputized by Mitch McConnell to have those talks. You know, the same Collins who is dragging out the process of watering down election reform legislation, because there absolutely had to be compromise there, too. Collins, by the way, has generously used her campaign funds to sponsor local NRA groups back home in Maine. But sure, she’s an honest broker here.

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“Maybe I’m a fool for being the eternal optimist, but I’m just gonna stay at it for these next few days, the next week,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) told NPR. We don’t want to call Chris Murphy a fool because he has been carrying the weight of this since the slaughter at Sandy Hook, in his home state.

“As we’re talking, we’re trying to figure out a process by which over the next week, Republicans and Democrats—a group of us—can sit down and try to hammer out a compromise,” Murphy told NPR. “The chances are, well, less than 50-50 that we will find that compromise because there are probably four or five Republicans who would fairly easily support some commonsense measures. It’s tougher to find the next five.”

He needs to be doing something, anything and this is what he’s left with in this 50/50 Senate in which two Democrats, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, refuse to break the filibuster. That’s after Manchin’s work with Republican Sen. Pat Toomey (PA) to pass bipartisan gun control was filibustered by Republicans nine years ago.

So instead of acting now, today, forcing a vote on the House-passed gun restrictions to keep pressure on everyone, the Senate is reverting to normal. Thoughts and prayers and promises and foot-dragging and cries of politicization and nothing happens until the next slaughter, when they rinse and repeat.

“We’re going to do everything we can to get, I hope, a bill to the floor as quickly as possible. But you know what’s going to happen. It’s going to fail,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) told reporters Wednesday. “We are caught in the most perverse version of Groundhog Day.”

Instead, on this last real day of Senate work for two weeks, they voted on the response to the last mass shooting, the white nationalist massacre of Black shoppers in a Buffalo grocery store less than two weeks ago. This vote was on legislation to combat domestic terrorism. It failed to advance to even a floor debate when Republicans filibustered it Thursday morning.

The bill would set up three offices in Homeland Security, Justice, and the FBI to coordinate on domestic terror to try to maybe prevent at least part of the slaughter. It did not pass because Republicans wouldn’t let it. Because they say it’s unfair to real Americans.

“The problem we have is that we have a bunch of people who define anyone they disagree with as terrorists, as extremists,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), representing the party that calls public school teachers “groomers.”  “We’ve reached a point in America now where the term ‘extremist’ is applied too liberally to people, that there’s deep concern about how these entities will be used. … That’s the concern that people have.”

Sure.

Within hours of people showing up at Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home with cardboard signs and chalk, the Senate passed, unanimously, legislation to expand security protections for justices. Because cardboard and chalk are weapons of mass annoyance.

The irony that the Senate rushed to protect them from peaceful protestors on the abortion issue should not be lost. The court is doing more to protect the unborn than children outside the womb, who have actual lives and families and friends and dreams and hopes. By extension, so is the Senate.

This is not sustainable. The nation will not survive this status quo. We can’t abolish the Senate—the best solution—but we can improve it. That’s the goal for 2022.

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