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Larry Hirsch Headshot

Senate Democrats Should Stop Fearing Filibuster

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By not including the Assault Weapons Ban in the Senate Gun Control Bill, Majority Leader Harry Reid said he wanted a bill that could pass. In essence he didn't want the bill stuck in another filibuster. The math in the Senate has been that you need 60 votes to get something passed since otherwise there is a good chance that a Republican filibuster will stop the bill from coming to the floor. Democrats fear this filibuster so make compromises that will allow bills to pass. As the majority party the Senate Democrats should be able to move their agenda forward, but instead of going for 50+1 votes they need to craft bills for 60.

In many cases this is the legislative process and compromise is needed to get things done. In some cases, such as the Assault Weapons Ban, the Democrats should not be afraid to take on the filibuster head on. This is a time to let Republicans get on the national stage and explain why they think people need assault weapons to defend themselves. While Republicans drone on, Democrats can bring out gun violence victims and relatives to talk about lives an Assault Weapons Ban would have saved. Who wins this battle of the sound bites?

The majority of Americans support the Assault Weapons Ban and the other sensible gun control measures proposed by President Obama. A strong bill will include them all. By not including the ban, Democrats have shown some weakness that may already be putting the background check provisions of the bill at risk. The bill that can pass, may not. The Democrats can remedy things by pushing hard to pass the Feinstein amendment to restore the Assault Weapons Ban to the bill. If the Republicans threaten to filibuster it, let them.