Former President Donald Trump blasted top Senate Republicans on Wednesday for backing a bipartisan gun control bill, but it appears nearly a third of GOP senators could break with the ex-president to support the legislation.
Trump called out the likes of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who led Republican negotiations on the bill, saying on his social media platform, Truth Social, they are joining with “Radical Left Democrats” to pass the legislation.
The text of the highly anticipated bill was released Tuesday evening, laying out proposals like enhanced background checks for gun buyers under 21, federal grants to incentivize states to pass red-flag laws and the closure of the “boyfriend” loophole to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
The Senate voted 64-34 shortly after the text was released to begin debate on the bill, with 14 Republican senators joining all 50 Democrats on the procedural vote.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who said earlier this month he supported the framework of the bill, was not present for Tuesday’s vote but is expected to take part in a final vote.
What To Watch For
Senate leadership is hoping to pass the bill this week, before the chamber goes on a two-week recess. The bill needs 10 Republican votes to overcome the 60-vote filibuster threshold.
A series of mass shootings across the U.S. including the massacre of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, led to a massive public outcry for lawmakers to take action on guns. For weeks, a small group of senators led by Cornyn on the Republican side and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on the Democratic side worked to craft a gun control bill that could muster enough Republican support to pass the Senate. Major Democratic proposals like raising the age to buy assault weapons and universal background checks were quickly ruled out of the bill, but groups like the National Rifle Association and right-wing figures like Trump criticized any action on guns, with Trump labeling calls for gun reform a “grotesque effort” in a speech just three days after the Uvalde massacre.
A speech from Cornyn last week at the Texas Republican Convention was drowned out by booing, despite the conservative senator telling the crowd he kept Democrats’ “gun-grabbing wishlist off the table.”
According to the New York Times, Trump pressed advisors multiple times during his presidency about potential gun control measures after mass shootings, but no action was ever taken.