A series of dueling gun control measures in the Senate were defeated Monday evening in the first proposed legislation in the wake of the Orlando terror attack.
The four amendments all failed on procedural votes.
The first vote was on the amendment by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to enhance funding for an existing gun background check system which needed 60 votes to pass. The final vote tally was 53 to 47.
The second vote was on a measure by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., to expand gun background checks and close the so-called gun show loophole where firearm purchases are not tracked. The final vote tally was 44 to 56.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas pushed a measure that would allow the government to delay a gun sale to a suspected terrorrist for 72 hours, but require prosecutors to go to court to show probable cause to block the sale permanently. The National Rifle Associated backed the legislation, but it failed in a final vote of 53 to 47.
The fourth and final vote involved a measure by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to keep people on a government terrorism watch list or other suspected terrorists from buying guns. The Justice Department endorsed her legislation, but it also failed with a final vote count of 47 to 53.
The votes came after Murphy filibustered for almost 15 hours last week seeking action in response to the killing of 49 people in the gay nightclub Pulse by Omar Mateen, a Florida man who pledged his loyalty to ISIS in the midst of the rampage.
Since lawmakers were unable to come together on a piece of compromise legislation, the individual bills faced long odds. Democrats helped block two Republican amendments, arguing that they fall short in controlling the sales of firearms. In turn, Republicans were able to block two Democratic amendments, contending they threaten the constitutional rights of gun owners.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Orlando attack shows the best way to prevent attacks by extremists is to defeat such groups overseas.
“Look, no one wants terrorists to be able to buy guns or explosives,” McConnell said. He suggested that Democrats were using the day’s votes “as an opportunity to push a partisan agenda or craft the next 30-second campaign ad,” while Republicans wanted “real solutions.”
Cornyn said after the votes that he thinks there may be other votes on terrorism or guns later this week.
Murphy said Sunday on ABC’s “The Week” that the passage of the measures was unlikely and focused on the response to the filibuster.
“It wasn’t just that 40 senators came to the floor and supported my effort to get these votes but there were millions of people all across the country who rose up and who joined our effort,” he said.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch told “Fox News Sunday” that she also supported Cornyn’s proposal. Lynch said such an amendment would give the federal government the ability to stop a sale to somebody on the terror watch list.
However, she argued the federal government needs flexibility and the authority to protect the classified information used in denying a sale, if potential buyers exercise the constitutional rights to file an appeal.
“The American people deserve for us to take the greatest amount of time,” Lynch said.
The Pulse Orlando nightclub shooter was added to a government watch list of individuals known or suspected of being involved in terrorist activities in 2013, when he was investigated for inflammatory statements to co-workers. But he was pulled from that database when that investigation was closed 10 months later.
Both the Feinstein and Cornyn amendments would have tried to ensure that individuals like Mateen who had been a subject of a terrorism investigation within the last five years are flagged. Grassley’s would have required that law enforcement be notified if a person had been investigated in the last five years and attempted to purchase a gun.
Last week, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump tweeted that he would meet with the NRA about “not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.” Exactly what he would support was unclear.
Separately, moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is working with other Republicans, as well as talking to Democrats, on a bill that would prevent people on the no-fly list — a smaller universe than targeted by Democrats — from getting guns. But her bill had not been blessed by GOP leaders and it was unclear if it would get a vote.
In the GOP-controlled House, Republicans had no plans to act on guns and Democrats were unable to force any action, given House rules less favorable to the minority party than in the Senate.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Mike Emanuel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.