WASHINGTON -- While President Barack Obama was delivering an emotional plea on Monday about gun control legislation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that he will be among those filibustering the gun package that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is trying to bring up.
"Sen. McConnell opposes the Reid bill," McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said in a statement. "While nobody knows yet what Sen. Reid’s plan is for the gun bill, if he chooses to file cloture on the motion to proceed to the Reid bill, Sen. McConnell will oppose cloture on proceeding to that bill."
McConnell is the 14th Republican to join the filibuster effort being led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). The GOP leader could have opted to stay out of it, letting the votes happen on the gun package and putting the pressure on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to decide the bill's fate, if it even made it out of the Senate. Instead, McConnell is making a calculated decision to be part of the filibuster effort that could derail the entire push for gun control legislation.
News of McConnell's plan came at the exact moment that Obama was giving a speech in Hartford, Conn. -- to a crowd that included families of victims from the Newtown shootings -- about the need for Congress to hold votes on the gun proposals, regardless of whether lawmakers planned to vote for them. Obama, whose voice cracked at moments during the speech, used some of his toughest language yet in pressing lawmakers to act.
"What's more important? Our children or an 'A' grade from the gun lobby?" the president asked of Congress.
Reid is trying to bring up the gun bill this week, though it is hanging by a few political threads. There have been some small developments in favor of the package, however, including Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) emerging as a prospective cosponsor for the background checks piece of the bill. The details of that proposal are still being finalized.
CORRECTION: McConnell becomes the 14th senator to join the filibuster effort, not the 15th, as previously reported.
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