Remember the sleazy tactics used by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to pass ObamaCare? The secret meetings? The refusal to let the American people see the language? The “amendment tree” used to block Republicans from offering amendments on the floor? The use of a House-passed bill as a vehicle to circumvent Senate procedures?
Well, all of that sleaziness is back in connection with efforts to extend three anti-gun provisions of post-9/11 legislation.
In order to circumvent Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s pro-gun amendment to the bill, Reid has now scuttled the Senate version of the 9/11 extension, tacked everything onto a motion to concur with a House-passed small business bill, and employed a procedure to lock out ALL Republican amendments, including Paul’s pro-gun amendment.
As you know, Rand Paul’s amendment would exempt 4473’s and other gun records from the blanket information demands which BATF can make under 9/11 legislation.
Without Paul’s exemption, it is theoretically possible that BATF could go to a secret (FISA) court, and, in a one-party (ex parte) proceeding, obtain an order to produce every 4473 in the country, ostensibly because a “terrorism investigation” requires it.
This is unacceptable.
It is a violation of gun owner protections enacted in 1986 as part of the McClure-Volkmer Firearms Owners Protection Act. Not surprisingly, BATF is already trying to violate McClure-Volkmer in its new proposed rules to require reporting of multiple semi-auto sales –- and to compile a gun registry from those reports.
Senate Republicans cannot allow Reid to pull another sleazy ObamaCare-type gambit, or they will spend the rest of the year shut out from any ability to have any influence on the issues and amendments considered by the Senate.
Do you remember when Senate Republicans swallowed two Senate rules changes at the beginning of the 112th Congress –- in exchange for a commitment by Harry Reid that he would not shut out Republican amendments on major pieces of legislation?
Well, this may be the first major piece of non-appropriations legislation of the 112th Congress, and Reid has broken his promise in order to use extraordinary procedures to shut out all Republican amendments.
If Republican Senators allow him to succeed, you will spend the seventeen months between now and November, 2012 -– with the Senate allowed to consider only those issues which will help Barack Obama’s reelection –- and which will help Reid retain Democratic control of the Senate.
Please, for your own sake, do not let this happen.
by Michael E. Hammond, former General Counsel Senate Steering Committee 1978-89.