Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

This article has been updated to reflect that Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) voted for all four gun control measures.

Barely more than a week after 49 people lost their lives in the worst mass shooting in American history, Congress has once again voted against gun control. The GOP-controlled Senate rejected four measures that would’ve made background-checks mandatory and prevented names on the terror list watch list from buying guns. Similar gun-control measures were also rejected after the Sandy Hook Elementary School and San Bernardino shootings.

Sen. Chris Murphy, who kick-started the vote with a 15-hour filibuster last week, and who sponsored two of the measures, said he was not surprised by the outcome, “I’m going to be turning my attention to the November election. I’m going to take some of my energy and help make sure that people who cast the wrong vote don’t come back to the Senate,” he told Politico.

“Sadly, our efforts are blocked by the Republican Congress, who take their marching orders from the National Rifle Association.” Said Democratic Sen. Harry Reid in a floor speech.

The Center for Responsive Politics reports:

Gun rights interests have given more than $37 million to candidates, parties and outside spending groups since 1989, with 88 percent of the funds contributed to candidates and parties going to Republicans. And in the 2012 and 2014 election cycles, they let loose another $48 million (at least) in outside spending.

The NRA has provided the lion’s share of the funds, having contributed $22.3 million since 1989. During the 2014 election cycle, it further opened its coffers to make $27 million in outside expenditures.

GOP senators who voted against the “No Fly, No Buy” proposal said that they were just trying to protect the gun rights of people who mistakenly end up on the terror watch list. Instead, Republicans offered two countermeasures: one that would have placed a 72-hour hold on gun sales to people on the terrorist watch list, and another which would have expanded the legal definitions that prevent people with mental health issues form buying guns.

Democrats overwhelmingly rejected those, saying they would have made no difference in the Orlando tragedy.

According to the latest CNN/ORC poll, 92 percent of respondents said they wanted to expand background checks, and 85 percent said they supported a ban for people on federal watch lists from buying guns. Ninety percent of Republicans questioned favored preventing people on the terror list from buying guns, compared to 85 percent of questioned Democrats.

So with support for gun control at an all time high, even amongst Republicans, which senators voted against the restrictions, and why?

The voting occurred mostly along partisan lines, with 53 of 54 Republicans voting against the two Democratic measures. But it was not only Republicans: Sen. Jon Tester voted against Chris Murphy’s bill, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp voted against Diane Feinstein’s bill.

These senators are two of few Democrats to have taken NRA money — Heitkamp has received $8,000 from gun groups throughout her career and Tester has received $2,50s.

Both senators will seek reelection in heavily republican states in 2018.

Only one Republican, Sen. Mark Kirk voted in favor of both Democratic bills. Kirk is the only GOP Senator that has received anything lower than an A- rating from the NRA. Coincidentally, he has also not received money from gun groups. Kirk represents Illinois, and Chicago is one of the most gun-violent cities in the nation, with more than 1,780 people shot this year. He’s facing reelection in November.

Money from gun rights groups can be traced to the campaigns of all 53 Republican senators who voted against the measure. Over the course of these senators’ careers, the NRA has given a staggering $36,290,699.

One GOP senator, Kelly Ayotte from New Hapmshire, voted for Sen. Diane Feinstein’s bill, but against Chris Murphy’s. Ayotte’s approval ratings fell when she voted against expanding background checks after the 2010 Newtown shooting and is in a tight battle for reelection against Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. She is now working with Sen. Susan Collins on yet another attempt at compromise.

“To get to that solution, we have to move this debate forward,” said Ayotte said on the Senate floor after voting. She has taken in $29,295 in contributions from gun groups.

Collins has received $19,800 from gun rights groups throughout her career.

Here are the other Republican senators who voted against the measures, and the amounts of money they have received from gun rights groups throughout their careers. Note that these are only direct contributions: the gun lobby spends millions of dollars in “outside spending,” or advertising and other efforts which cannot be legally coordinated directly with campaign committees.

John Cornyn (TX) $169,625

John Thune (SD) $159,705

Mitch McConnell (KY) $132,700

Roy Blunt (MO) $122,630

Jim Inhofe (OK) $121,850

Rand Paul (KY) $109,045

Dean Heller (NV) $104,265

Richard Burr (NC) $97,050

Richard Shelby (AL) $96,850

Pat Toomey (PA) $96,077

Cory Gardner (CO) $93,434

Lindsey Graham (SC) $90,866

Pat Roberts (KA) $90,150

Ted Cruz (TX) $89,579

David Vitter (LA) $79,748

Marco Rubio (FL) $77,139

John McCain (AZ) $76,225

Chuck Grassley (IA) $75,600

Mike Crapo (ID), $72,940

Steve Daines (MO) $72,680

Jeff Sessions (AL) $62,200

Roger Wicker (MI) $59,250

Shelley Capito (WV) $58,200

Ron Johnson (WI) $57,925

Bill Cassidy (LA) $57,153

Tom Cotton (AR) $55,189

Rob Portman (OH) $55,150

Thad Cochran (MI) $53,050

Jeff Flake (AZ) $46,200

John Barrasso (WY) $46,099

Jim Risch (ID) $44,200

Jerry Moran (KA) $43,850

Orrin Hatch (UT) $38,350

Mike Enzi (WY) $37,500

James Lankford (OK) $37,425

John Hoeven (ND), $35,700

Lamar Alexander (TN) $34,750

Lisa Murkowski (AK) $34,358

Johnny Isakson (GA) $33,400

Deb Fischer (NE) $31,100

Joni Ernst (IA) $28,700

Thom Tillies (NC) $28,700

Tim Scott (SC) $27,400

John Boozman (AR) $26,235

Dan Coats (IN) $22,900

Bob Corker (TN) $22,440

Mike Lee (UT) $21,500

Ben Sasse (NE) $20,307

David Perdue (GA) $17,150

Mike Rounds (SD) $17,100

Dan Sullivan (AK) $12,036

 

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) (C) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) (R) speak to reporters after ending a 14-hour filibuster in the hopes of pressuring the U.S. Senate to action on gun control measures, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was on CNN Sunday morning with Jake Tapper on his State of the Union show. In part because Democratic reps, like Republican reps, going on Sunday shows is about this coming election, and in part because newscasters are not particularly deep or creative when it comes to talking about politics, Tapper decided to spend a lot of time trying to get Ocasio-Cortez to attack Joe Biden for their differences of political opinions. Newsflash: Ocasio-Cortez, progressive hero, co-author of the ambitious Green New Deal environmental package, and Vice President Joe Biden aren't exactly on the same page as to how to handle climate change.

More to the point, Tapper asked Ocasio-Cortez whether or not she was bothered by the fact that Biden has not said he would outright ban fracking. The move to ban fracking in states across the country has been a seesaw battle of fossil fuel interests fighting against progressive environmentalism and science. Biden's refusal to provide full-throated support for a ban on fracking is disappointing to many of us on the left, but it isn't surprising. Even more importantly, it is below the most essential first step the progressive movement—and the country for that matter—needs to take: getting rid of Donald Trump and getting rid of the Republican majority in the Senate.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez isn't going to be pulled into a pointless argument about fracking with Jake Tapper. Her position is well-reported. So is Biden's. AOC explains very clearly that this is how politics work in a representative democracy.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: It does not bother me. I believe, and I have a very strong position on fracking. You know, the science is very clear, the methane emissions from fracking are up to 64 times more powerful than CO2 emissions and trapping heat in the air, and just from a perspective of stopping climate change there is a scientific consensus. However, that is my view. Vice President Biden has made very clear that he does not agree with the fracking ban and I consider that, you know—it will be a privilege to lobby him should we win the White House but we need to focus on winning the White House first. I am happy to make my case but I also understand he is in disagreement on that issue.

Tapper wonders whether this will depress the youth vote, a vote that AOC represents more closely than Biden. This, of course, is literally the only reason Trump and his surrogates have been bringing up this difference of positions the last couple of weeks. The hope is that it will depress the more progressive vote, while spooking some more conservative-leaning folks in fossil-fuel heavy states like Pennsylvania and Texas. Ocasio-Cortez points out that the youth vote over the past couple of years has not simply become more sophisticated since 2016, it has brought in more progressive candidates and officials into local elections. The turnout in 2018 showed that, and Ocasio-Cortez believes that this election is very clearly a choice between Donald Trump, someone who is a non-starter of a human being, and Joe Biden.

Tapper then plays a clip of Biden telling reporters that he isn't "getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time," but that he's talking about getting rid of the subsidies the fake free-marketeers enjoy in the fossil fuel industry. While Tapper is hoping that this will illustrate how Biden isn't AOC and the youth vote may be turned off by this statement, she sees it as an important step in the right direction.

REP. OCASIO-CORTEZ: When he says we are eliminating subsidies, I think that is, frankly, an important first step. A lot of folks who like to tout themselves as free market capitalists, while still trying to make sure they get as much government subsidy, and propping up of the fossil fuel industry as possible. ... If you do believe in markets, solar and renewable energies are growing less and less expensive by the day in many areas. They are starting to become less expensive than fossil fuels. When you eliminate government subsidies, it becomes more difficult for fossil fuels to compete in the market. I think while the vice president wants to make sure that he is not doing it by government mandate or regulation. I do believe that we are moving towards that future. I believe that there's a way and that we should push that process along but again, the vice president and my disagreements are, I believe, recorded and that is quite all right.