Fifteen Republicans voted late Thursday to pass gun safety legislation, the first of its kind in three decades.
Ten Republicans were part of initial negotiations over the bill in May, following mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas that put pressure on lawmakers to come together on legislation.
The bill, known as the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, includes billions of dollars in funding for state mental health services and school security. It also targets the “boyfriend loophole” that allows dating partners to own guns after being convicted of domestic abuse, unlike federal law against spouses. The bill also provides grants to states to adopt “red flag” laws, which allow courts to remove firearms from those deemed a threat to themselves or others.
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., expressed his tentative support of the measure last week and voted in favor of the bill on Thursday.
Only two of the 15 Senate Republicans who voted in to support are facing re-election this year: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Todd Young of Indiana.
Four of the senators are set to leave office this year: Senators Rob Portman of Ohio, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard M. Burr of North Carolina and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
The rest of the Republican senators aren’t up for re-election until 2026, with the exception of Mitt Romney of Utah, whose election is in 2024.
The bill now moves to the House; if it passes, it will then be sent to President Joe Biden for signature. Biden has already expressed his support for the bill.
- Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
- Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas
- Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
- Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
- Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.
- Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
- Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine
- Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
- Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio
- Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah
- Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
- Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska
- Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.
- Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
The bill had bipartisan support and enough votes to pass from the beginning, as 10 of these senators were part of initial negotiations over the bill and gave their support.
Many of the Republicans who voted for the bill have A or A-plus ratings from the National Rifle Association.
Some Republicans who voted in favor, including Capito and Murkowski, were uncertain ahead of procedural votes held this week. The two had not expressed support for the bipartisan framework announced in May, saying they needed to review the bill text before deciding.
Murkowski is up for reelection this year in Alaska, a state with some of the loosest gun laws in the country. In a video she tweeted Wednesday, Murkowski said she wanted to see efforts from Congress to protect children in schools while acting in good faith to protect the rights of “proud gun owners” in Alaska.
Senators who did not vote for the bill have expressed doubts about checks on gun ownership like “red flag” laws and the “boyfriend loophole.”