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Senate votes to advance bipartisan gun control legislation

The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to advance a new bipartisan gun control bill in a procedural move that saw 14 Republicans support firearm restrictions.

The 64 to 34 vote was a crucial step in potentially passing the legislation, signaling that it may eclipse the 60-vote threshold needed to break a filibuster in the Senate when the bill comes up for an official vote. The bill would need the backing of 10 Republicans and all Senate Democrats to avoid a filibuster.

If the Senate breaks a filibuster, the bill would then be put up for a final passage vote. From there, the House would have to vote on the legislation before it can land on President Biden’s desk.

The 80-page bill was released Tuesday evening and includes expanded background checks for gun buyers under 21, provides grants for states that implement their own red flag laws and offers additional funding for both school safety measures and mental health services.

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The measure also creates penalties for straw purchases of firearms, requires more gun sellers to register as Federally Licensed Firearm Dealers and closes the so-called boyfriend loophole by prohibiting gun access for people convicted of domestic abuse against an intimate partner.

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Senator Schumer speaks during the presentation.

The bill follows a bipartisan framework from earlier this month that 10 Republican senators had already signed on to. That framework on gun control measures was the basis of Tuesday’s legislation.  

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the bill’s lead GOP negotiator, both voted in favor of the legislation proceeding.

“I support the bill text that Sen. Cornyn and our colleagues have produced,” McConnell said in a statement Tuesday evening.

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Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) speaks on a proposed Democratic tax plan, at the U.S. Capitol on August 04, 2021 in Washington, DC. 

The other 12 Senate Republicans to approve the proposal’s advancement are Senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Todd Young of Indiana, Thom Tillis and Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said on the Senate Floor that the chamber will “move to final passage as soon as possible” and that he expects the bill to pass by the end of the week.

And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, said in a statement, “After the Senate passes this bill, the House will swiftly bring it to the Floor so that we can send it to President Biden’s desk.”

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the legislation if it passes the Senate and the House.

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