The Outrageous, Dysfunctional U.S. Senate

Today (April 17th) the U.S. Senate again demonstrated its dysfunctionality in outrageously refusing to vote on the merits on adopting reasonable, common-sense legislation to combat the horrendous toll of gun violence in the U.S. Just look at the New York Times and Washington Post articles on this day in the Senate.

Under the unconstitutional Senate filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to end debate and proceed to voting on the merits, the compromise measure crafted by Democratic Senator Joe Machin and Republican Senator Pat Toomey to require background checks for sales of guns online and at gun shows (but not between neighbors and family members) failed to get the 60 votes although it had the support of 54% of the Senate.

Similarly a measure to increase enforcement and reporting on gun purchases by mentally ill persons had majority support (52%), but not the “necessary” 60 votes and thus failed to advance.

Another failure despite majority support (58%) was a measure to make straw purchasing and trafficking of guns a federal crime.

One gun control measure–renewal and strengthening of a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines–also failed to even get a simple majority, 40-60.

For me these actions once again show the outrageousness of the filibuster rule and the failure of the Senate earlier this year to abolish or make significant changes to that rule. I have frequently railed against the filibuster rule and practice in this blog.

As President Obama said afterwards, it was a “shameful day for Washington.”