Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Mystery Of The Missing Senator

As I said this morning, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy lead a 15-hour filibuster to force Mitch the Turtle and the GOP to at least pay lip service to the idea of allowing a vote on gun safety measures. Several Democratic senators pitched in to help Murphy out.

It's been nearly a decade since Congress made any significant changes to federal gun laws. In April 2007, Congress passed a law to strengthen the instant background check system after a gunman at Virginia Tech was able to purchase his weapons because his mental health history was not in the instant background check database. Thirty-two people died in the shooting. 
Murphy said Senate leadership agreed to allow a vote on legislation from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would let the government bar sales of guns and explosives to people it suspects of being terrorists. 
Feinstein offered the amendment in December, a day after an extremist couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, but the Republican-run Senate rejected the proposal on a near party-line vote. He said the compromise also will allow a vote on an amendment to expand background checks. 
Sen. Bob Casey, who represents Pennsylvania, spoke at around 12:30 a.m. Thursday, called on legislators to allow the votes. 
"At least put your hand up for a vote that will begin, just begin the long journey to rectify a substantial national problem that takes 33,000 people every year," Casey said. "All we're asking for is a start." 
As Murphy wrapped up the filibuster in the early hours of Thursday, he told the story of Sandy Hook student Dylan Hockley and his teacher Anne Marie Murphy, who died trying to protect him. 
"It doesn't take courage to stand here on the floor of the U.S. Senate… It takes courage to look into the eye of a shooter and instead of running wrapping your arms around a 6-year-old boy and accepting death," Murphy said. "If Ann-Marie Murphy could do that then ask yourself — what can you do to make sure that Orlando or Sandy Hook never, ever happens again."

But do you know which sitting US senator was not among the dozens who supported Murphy's filibuster by speaking out loudly in favor of gun safety regulations?

Bernie Sanders.

On Wednesday, a group of Senate Democrats launched a lengthy and spirited filibuster to pressure Congress into taking action to prevent gun violence. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wasn't at the filibuster, but he tweeted his support throughout the day in absentia. The lively filibuster continued for more than 12 hours on Wednesday — and Sanders' fellow Senate Democrats showed few signs of slowing down as the clock crept toward Thursday. 
Although he's a senator with a seat around the floor where the action took place on Wednesday, Sanders remained away from the Capitol. That's not unusual or unexpected for a presidential candidate. After all, he may not be the so-called "presumptive nominee," but he's made it clear that he won't concede to rival Hillary Clinton just yet. To keep his campaign alive, Sanders probably needs to focus more on votes from superdelegates than from senators. 
That's not to say that Sanders turned his back on his colleagues at the Capitol. On the contrary, Sanders tweeted throughout the day from his senatorial Twitter account (rather than the campaign account that you're probably more likely to follow). Like many of his fellow senators, Sanders called for a ban on the purchase of military-style weapons, like the rifle used in Sunday's shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Now, there's all kinds of excuses Bernie can make for not being at that filibuster.  Some of them might even be good excuses.  But if I'm trying to keep my campaign alive at this point, when given a national platform and an issue supposedly near and dear to his heart, Bernie chose to stay in Vermont to tweet, and that's not a decision I would have made.

Regardless of the campaign, Sanders is still the senior Senator from Vermont. He could have weighed in, I guess.


Revolutions are hard, I guess.

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