Has the death of federal gun legislation been greatly exaggerated?

Crosses symbolizing grave markers sit on the National Mall in April as part of a 24-hour vigil to "remind Congress action is needed on gun violence prevention." 
Crosses symbolizing grave markers sit on the National Mall in April as part of a 24-hour vigil to “remind Congress action is needed on gun violence prevention.”

In a word…yes.

The Week

Six months after the Newtown mass shooting, Democrats are starting to quietly restart the gun-control engines

Six months have passed since a lone gunman walked in to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and shot 20 small children and six adults. The big push for legislation to curb gun violence that followed Newtown peaked in April, in a Senate showdown where supporters of the bill were unable to get 60 votes to break a Republican-led filibuster.

The Week‘s Jon Terbush noted earlier this week that this defeat took the wind out of the sails of the gun-control movement — and now, he says, “the prospect of gun control legislation getting a second wind seems unlikely.”

Senate Democrats, apparently, disagree. “The fight is not over, it has just begun,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday, flanked by families of the Newtown victims. “We may have lost the first vote, but we’re going to win the last one,” added Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

They aren’t just blowing hot air, says Jonathan Weisman in The New York Times. Congressional Democrats and the White House are quietly renewing their effort to pass gun safety legislation “amid delicate talks on a new background-check measure that advocates hope could change enough votes from no to yes.” The number of votes needed is daunting, and Reid warned that any new measure can’t be weaker than the one stymied in April, but this does provide supporters a concrete glimmer of hope.

The quiet talks between two senators who voted against the bill, Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) “officially do not exist,” Weisman adds. Both lawmakers “deny the existence of negotiations or legislation.” At the same time, “other senators are openly acknowledging and encouraging the effort and say the talks are building momentum.” And if Begich and Ayotte switch their votes, supporters need at least three more nay-to-aye conversions. (Stand-in Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa [R-N.J.] is a wild card.)

Supporters of the gun measures say that if Begich and Ayotte can reach a deal on background checks that’s robust enough for Democrats and different enough to make vote-switching look credible, four other senators may join them. That would be enough to pass at least that part of the gun safety package.

But none of the potential switchers are encouraging talk of a renewed push, and Democratic leaders are increasingly urging New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) to put down one of his financial weapons, his threat to spend heavily to defeat Democrats who voted against the bill. A Republican-led Senate would spell the death of gun control, Reid says he told Bloomberg, to unknown effect: “He’s kind of a free spirit, and a very rich one.”

Just because the “recalcitrant Senate succumbed to pressure from gun manufacturers and the NRA’s leadership and failed to pass even the most modest measure” doesn’t mean the post-Newtown gun control push has failed, say Robyn Thomas and Juliet Leftwich in the Los Angeles Times.

Since the Newtown tragedy, gun regulation has made enormous gains in states across the country, with more on the horizon. In fact, an unprecedented number of gun control laws have been introduced, debated, voted on and enacted this year. What a difference Sandy Hook and six months have made…. In all, we’ve seen a year-to-year increase of 231 percent in the introduction of common sense gun-safety legislation nationwide. [Los Angeles Times]

Even the Senate bill’s defeat “was, in its way, a victory,” say Thomas and Leftwich, who work for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The fact that it was introduced, that hearings were held, and that it got 55 votes represents progress. After the vote, several senators felt real repercussions from their decision to vote against the bill, including Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), whose approval rating dropped by more than 15 percent immediately after the background check vote. There are now real consequences for legislators who choose not to represent the will of their constituents on this issue. [Los Angeles Times]

Senators Lose Support After Opposing Gun Background Checks, Poll Shows

The Huffington Post

Senators in several states who voted earlier this month against increasing background checks for gun buyers have since seen their approval ratings noticeably drop, according to new polls released Monday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) net approval rating dropped 16 points, as she shed much of her previous cross-party appeal. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) saw his numbers dive 18 points, from a positive to a negative rating.

Not all of the change can be attributed to the vote. Portman, for instance, saw his approval drop among Republicans when he announced his support for gay marriage in March. But in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada and Ohio, at least 60 percent of voters supported background checks, and many expressed disappointment with politicians who voted otherwise.

Fifty-two percent of Arizona voters said they were less likely to support Sen. Jeff Flake (R) for reelection due to his “no” vote, while 46 percent of Nevadans said the same of Sen. Dean Heller (R). More than a third of voters were less likely to back Portman as well as Alaska Sens. Mark Begich (D) and Murkowski. A previous PPP poll found that Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also saw her ratings tumble 15 points, likely due in part to her vote against background checks.

Much of the lost support comes from independent or moderate voters.

PPP hasn’t yet conducted polling on how senators who supported the bill have fared. But Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who cosponsored background check legislation, saw his approval rating increase by a net 7 points, according to a Quinnipiac University pollreleased Friday.

Nationally, most polls taken since the shooting in Newtown, Conn., have found thatupwards of 80 percent of people support gun background checks, and that there isrelatively little partisan division on the issue.

Opinions were less unified on the actual legislation considered in the Senate, but most still say they wish it had gone through. A 65 percent majority of Americans said the measure should have passed, including 45 percent of Republicans and a majority of Democrats and independents, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.


Senators Who Voted To Protect Oil Tax Breaks Received $23,582,500 From Big Oil

It appears that in Washington D.C. money talks and bull crap walks.  This article definitively shows Americans who their Senators really work for.  Clearly, it’s not for their constituents.

Think Progress

In a 51-47 vote, 43 Senate Republicans and four Democrats filibustered to protect $24 billion in tax breaks for Big Oil. Although a majority voted for Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) bill, it fell short of the 60 needed. The only two Republicans to break rank were Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

A Think Progress Green analysis shows how oil and gas companies have funneled cash to the same senators who protected its handouts:

– The 47 senators voting against the bill have received $23,582,500 in career contributions from oil and gas. The 51 senators voting to repeal oil tax breaks have received $5,873,600.

– The senators who voted for Big Oil’s handouts received on average over four times as much career oil cash as those who voted to end them.

– Overall, Senate Republicans have taken $23.2 million in oil and gas contributions. Democrats received $6.66 million.

– Since 2011, Senate Republicans have voted seven times for pro-Big Oil interests and against clean energy three times.

Democrats who joined the Republicans in defeating the bill include Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Jim Webb (D-VA). Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) broke ranks and voted to cut the tax breaks. Two senators, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) didn’t vote.

Republicans have taken an overwhelming 88 percent of oil and gas contributions this election cycle. While showering politicans with cash, the oil industry also spent over $146,000,000 on lobbying last year.

Although 55 percent of Americans want to see Big Oil welfare end, the GOP once again largely acted in-line with their Big Oil donors.

The full list of oil contributions for the Senate is listed below, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics:

Senator Since 2006 Career Vote
Akaka, Daniel (D-HI) 6,800 33,500 Y
Alexander, Lamar (R-TN) 159,350 414,550 N
Ayotte, Kelly (R-NH) 142,368 142,368 N
Barrasso, John (R-WY) 409,900 416,650 N
Baucus, Max (D-MT) 193,800 358,815 Y
Begich, Mark (D -AK) 153,705 153,705 N
Bennet, Michael (D-CO) 137,170 137,170 Y
Bingaman, Jeff (D-NM) 130,499 446,440 Y
Blumenthal, Richard (D-CT) 8,500 8,500 Y
Blunt, Roy (R-MO) 363,950 760,598 N
Boozman, John (R-AR) 101,352 141,952 N
Boxer, Barbara (D-CA) 19,350 40,075 Y
Brown , Scott (R-MA) 198,660 198,660 N
Brown , Sherrod (D-OH) 14,850 63,250 Y
Burr, Richard (R-NC) 234,800 549,852 N
Cantwell, Maria (D-WA) 39,666 61,116 Y
Cardin, Benjamin (D-MD) 39,400 71,900 Y
Carper, Thomas (D-DE) 48,600 71,060 Y
Casey, Bob (D-PA) 103,150 103,150 Y
Chambliss, Saxby (R-GA) 260,300 381,192 N
Coats, Daniel (R-In) 144,783 348,908 N
Coburn, Tom (R-OK) 190,400 552,163 N
Cochran, Thad (R-MS) 94,250 231,485 N
Collins, Susan (R-ME) 83,900 175,643 Y
Conrad, Kent (D-ND) 72,150 312,403 Y
Coons, Chris (D-DE) 13,373 13,373 Y
Corker, Bob (R-TN) 414,250 462,950 N
Cornyn, John (R-TX) 1,197,275 1,877,550 N
Crapo, Mike (R-ID) 94,300 314,689 N
DeMint, Jim (R-SC) 149,323 248,389 N
Durbin, Richard (D-IL) 23,100 66,800 Y
Enzi, Michael (R-WY) 126,800 305,650 N
Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA) 63,500 179,750 Y
Franken, Al (D-MN) 19,200 19,200 Y
Gillibrand, Kirsten (D-NY) 67,882 74,050 Y
Graham, Lindsey (R-SC) 64,150 154,875 N
Grassley, Chuck (R-IA) 132,500 270,050 N
Hagan, Kay (D-NC) 17,550 17,550 Y
Harkin, Tom (D-IA) 61,550 189,500 Y
Hatch, Orrin (R-UT) 310,750 452,425
Heller, Dean (R-NV) 122,100 210,050 N
Hoeven, John (R-ND) 263,289 263,289 N
Hutchsion, Kay Bailey (R-TX) 476,586 2,223,271 N
Inhofe, James (R-OK) 550,350 1,367,523 N
Inouye, Daniel (D-HI) 25,850 65,850 Y
Isakson, Johnny (R-GA) 130,900 248,514 N
Johanns, Mike (R-NE) 82,800 82,800 N
Johnson, Ron (R-WI) 113,950 113,950 N
Johnson, Tim (D-SD) 62,350 127,706 Y
Kerry, John (D-MA) 4,710 407,570 Y
Kirk, Mark (R-IL) 159,750 207,750
Klobouchar, Amy (D-MN) 19,716 19,716 Y
Kohl, Herb (D-WI) 1,300 Y
Kyl, Jon (R-AZ) 145,900 334,332 N
Landrieu, Mary L. (D-LA) 492,030 891,574 N
Lautenberg, Frank (D-NJ) 40,800 95,900 Y
Leahy, Patrick (D-VT) 250 10,250 Y
Lee, Mike (R-UT) 50,350 50,350 N
Levin, Carl (D-MI) 23,100 92,844 Y
Lieberman, Jo (I -CT) 84,850 196,250 Y
Lugar, Richard (R-IN) 67,600 217,225 N
Manchin, Joe (D-WV) 141,300 141,300 Y
McCain, John (R-AZ) 2,622,764 2,870,491 N
McCaskill, Claire (D-MO) 55,058 55,058 Y
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) 759,450 1,154,011 N
Menendez, Robert (D-NJ) 58,900 118,650 Y
Merkley, Jeff (D-OR) 6,500 6,500 Y
Mikulski, Barbara (D-MD) 9,650 47,710 Y
Moran, Jerry (R-KS) 139,000 385,496 N
Murkowski, Lisa (R-AK) 320,326 533,489 N
Murray, Patty (D-Wa) 21,716 57,366 Y
Nelson, Ben (D-NE) 217,650 271,555 N
Nelson, Bill (D-FL) 56,617 86,117 Y
Paul, Rand (R-KY) 106,840 106,840 N
Portman, Robert (R-OH) 313,858 323,458 N
Pryor, Mark (D-AR) 153,650 183,800 Y
Reed, Jack (D-RI) 5,200 12,850 Y
Reid, Harry (D-NV) 136,550 349,336 Y
Risch, James (R-ID) 88,350 88,350 N
Roberts, Pat (R-KS) 250,000 429,800 N
Rockefeller, Jay (D-WV) 73,550 310,250 Y
Rubio, Marco (R-FL) 244,034 244,034 N
Sanders, Bernie (I -VT) 5,500 7,200 Y
Schumer, Charles (D-NY) 64,200 239,551 Y
Sessions, Jeff (R-AL) 106,200 297,500 N
Shaheen, Jeanne (D-NH) 12,300 21,000 Y
Shelby, Richard (R-AL) 50,900 352,700 N
Snowe, Olympia (R-ME) 73,200 173,900 Y
Stabenow, Debnbie (D-MI) 35,750 54,100 Y
Tester, Jon (D-Mt) 26,400 26,400 Y
Thune, John (R-SD) 189,835 649,462 N
Toomey, Patrick (R-PA) 315,366 362,716 N
Udall, Mark (D-CO) 120,110 169,029 Y
Udall, Tom (D-NM) 105,329 150,210 Y
Vitter, David (R-LA) 612,850 1,018,685 N
Warner, Mark (D-VA) 20,400 59,200 Y
Webb, Jim (D-VA) 26,006 26,006 N
Whitehouse, Sheldon (D-RI) 25,550 25,550 Y
Wicker, Roger (R-MS) 356,400 538,810 N
Wyden, Ron (D-OR) 43,264 117,864 Y
TOTAL 16,994,910 30,116,264
GOP 13,586,309 23,249,395
Dems 3,318,251 6,663,419
Independents 90,350 203,450

Methodology: Analysis includes oil and gas contributions from PACs and individuals giving $200 or more to Senators between the 2006-2012 election cycles and over their career, using data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich Defend Oil Companies Against Democrats

This is why the Dems are so screwed.  The GOPers walk in lockstep (with an exception here or there) while the Dems have three factions, Blue Dogs, Progressives and Liberals.  The GOP messaging is consistent.  The Dems are all over the place!

“A house divided…”

Huffington Post

The Democratic attempt to take on the major oil companies is being challenged from within, with representatives of producing states rushing to the defense of the dirty-energy industry, complicating the plan to present a stark contrast between the two parties.

Democratic Sens. Mark Begich and Mary Landrieu, who represent Alaska and Louisiana, respectively, each took to the Senate floor Wednesday to decry their party’s attempt to strip tax breaks from the top oil companies.

Landrieu bemoaned the “inherent unfairness” of closing the tax loophole, insisting that doing so “will not reduce gasoline prices by one penny.”

Begich chided the party for putting message over substance. “It is a gimmick, a gimmick to get the next week of activity, and get some press out there,” he said. “Picking on one industry because it sounds good, rates good in the polls, gets you a couple of headlines is not what the American people want us to do here. If anything, they’re getting fed up with that. … Let’s stop the headline-grabbing and get serious about the energy security.”

The infighting couldn’t come at a worse time for Democratic leaders. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), is reportedly “leaning towards” voting to strip the tax breaks, citing “record profits” that come from the companies’ “tax advantage,” according to a tweet from CNN’s Ted Barrett.

Continued here…