Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)’s “assault weapons” ban passed out of committee along party lines on March 14 and now heads to the full Senate for a vote that many wonder if it will be able to survive.
The vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee was 10-8, with every Democrat voting for the ban and every Republican voting against it. But on the full Senate floor, where 60 votes will be necessary in a chamber where Democrats only hold 55 seats (counting two independents), the bill seems to have very little chance of passage.
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has not been very positive about the bill’s chances from the start; as recently as Feb. 3, in an appearance on ABC News’ This Week, he spent more time talking about all the guns he’s owned that he did talking about guns his Senate colleagues want to ban. Moreover, during that appearance he said he hadn’t even read Feinstein’s bill at the time and reminded viewers that he didn’t vote for the original assault weapons ban in 1994.
Reid also said he had told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to conduct business in the committee in a way that a bill could make it to the floor for a vote. The intimation seemed to be that passage wasn’t as important as simply giving the appearance that they’d given the bill a fair shot.
So now the bill heads to floor; at least seven of the 55 votes the Democrats would seem to have for a party line vote are gone, because 7 Democrats are running for reelection in red states in 2014–where a pro-gun control vote may nix their opportunity for reelection and therefore Sen. Reid’s opportunity to remain Majority Leader.
That means the 55 Democrat votes for the ban are reduced to 48 before the bill officially reaches the floor. If Republican Senators stand together in opposition to this bill, it simply cannot pass.