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Senate to Vote Monday on Four Gun Control Measures

The competing amendments, two Democratic and two Republican, would address background checks and weapons sales to people on terrorist watch lists.
Image: Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, led a 15-hour filibuster Wednesday to force Senate action on gun control.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The Senate will vote on four gun control measures Monday after being prodded by a 15-hour filibuster in the wake of the shooting massacre at a Florida nightclub.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, filed cloture motions Thursday on four gun-related amendments to a spending bill, a day after Democrats ended their filibuster to force some sort of action on gun restrictions.

"Cloture" is a parliamentary procedure that starts the clock on 30 hours of debate before a vote.

The amendments — two filed by Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut ,and two other, less restrictive measures filed by Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and John Cornyn, R-Texas — would address background checks of prospective gun buyers and the sale of guns and explosives to people on terrorist watch lists.

The votes Monday would be a rarity in the Senate, where Republicans have blocked gun control measures for many years. They would need 60 votes to pass — more votes than there are Democrats in the Senate, meaning there's a very high hurdle to surmount.

But they're likely to be important symbolically after Democrats led by Chris Murphy of Connecticut took to the floor for 15 hours Wednesday to demand action after 49 people plus the gunman were killed Sunday at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

The weapons used by the gunman, Omar Mateen, were legally purchased.

"I've had enough. I've had enough of the ongoing slaughter of innocents, and I've had enough of inaction in this body," Murphy said during the filibuster Wednesday. Many of his Democratic colleagues took turns echoing his sentiments.

Murphy said Thursday on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" that Democrats would "unleash a fury of advocacy on Republican congressional offices" over the weekend.

"Maybe we won't convince them on background checks, where they're dug in a little bit more, but, you know, I challenge Republicans — especially those who are up for election — to vote against preventing terrorists, those who are on the no-fly list, from getting guns," Murphy said.

But Republican senators told NBC News that the debate was obscuring what they said was the real issue: the infiltration of terrorists into the United States.

"We should be focused on terrorism and stopping ISIS," Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in an interview Thursday. "Far too many Democrats and President Obama are refusing to get serious about stopping radical Islamic terrorism in the face of this Orlando attack."

Cruz said Congress should instead take up legislation "to prevent ISIS terrorists from using U.S. passports and coming into America and to stop refugees from countries where ISIS and al-Qaeda control substantial territory from coming to the U.S."

Mateen was a New York-born U.S. citizen.

Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, told NBC News that the "sticking point" is that "our Democratic colleagues are really moving to convert the issue of the shooting to a gun control issue of minor importance in the scheme of things."

"They can use bombs. They can use other thing to kill people in the United States, as we all know," Sessions said. "We are not going to eliminate guns in America, so people will be able to get a gun if they choose, and they can shoot people."

The National Rifle Association, meanwhile, warned its members this week that the measures would threaten the constitutional right to own firearms.