WASHINGTON – In the closing moments of a nearly 15-hour filibuster, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) announced early Thursday morning that Senate Democrats received a commitment from Republicans to schedule votes to close the terror gap and expand background checks for firearm purchases. Murphy began speaking at 11:21 a.m. on Wednesday to delay Senate business on the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill until Republicans agreed to hold votes on the two measures. Murphy announced the agreement and concluded the filibuster at 2:11 a.m. Thursday, 14 hours and 50 minutes after beginning his speech.
Highlights of the conclusion of Murphy’s speech are below:
“I think we can report some very meaningful progress over the course of these 13 hours. When we began this debate on the floor – when we declared that we were not going to move forward on the CJS [Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations] bill without a commitment to talk about what happened in Orlando, to talk about how we fix it – when we began there was no commitment, no plan to debate these measures.
“And it is our understanding that the Republican leader and the Democratic leader have spoken and that we have been given a commitment on a path forward to get votes on the floor of the Senate – on a measure to assure that those on the terrorist watch list do not get guns (the Feinstein amendment), and an amendment introduced by myself and Senator Booker and myself and Senator Schumer to expand background checks to gun shows and to internet sales.
“Now we still have to get from here to there, but we did not have that commitment when we started today. And we have that understanding at the end of the day…
“I have been so angry that this Congress has mustered absolutely no response to mass shooting after mass shooting, in city after city that is plagued by gun violence. I'm not saying we aren't doing important work but there are 30,000 people dying every year on the streets of this country. And those that they leave behind – their moms and their dads and their little sisters and brothers – don’t get the total indifference that we portray.
“Sandy Hook was three and a half years ago, and Congress hasn't passed a single measure that would make the next mass shooting, the next murder of kids in this country less likely. The American public have already made up their mind that they want a background check system that captures potential terrorists. They want to make sure that everybody that buys a gun through a commercial sale has to prove that they're not a criminal before they buy it. The American people have made up their mind.
“So we chose to ask for the two least controversial provisions possible that will still do a world of good. And I’m glad that we are on a path to get those votes. It is a necessary but insufficient response to the carnage that we witness in this country every single day. This is personal to all of us.
“Senator Kaine said it well earlier tonight that we have scar tissue. But it's razor thin scar tissue compared to those today in Orlando that are living through the catastrophe of losing a 21-year-old son in the prime of his life, of losing a 24-year-old daughter with all of this potential ahead of us.”