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GOP senators threaten filibuster over gun bill

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By USA Today
Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 8:09 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A trio of Republicans threaten to filibuster gun legislation when it comes to the Senate floor, arguing the proposals violate the Second Amendment.

Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee — all Tea Party favorites — say they will “oppose any legislation that would infringe on the American people's constitutional right to bear arms or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance.”

Their intention is included in a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Reid has promised to bring a bill to the floor after the spring recess that would include separate measures to expand background checks on gun buyers, strengthen trafficking laws and improve school safety. The bills have passed the Judiciary Committee, and the background check measure is being tweaked to garner bipartisan support.

White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged the challenges facing gun legislation in Congress but noted measures such as background checks and closing loopholes for purchases at gun shows have support from people in all parties.

“Filibusters of efforts to move forward with common-sense measures to reduce gun violence would be unfortunate,” Carney said.

The letter from Paul, Cruz and Lee does not specifically say they will filibuster, but their intentions are clear. The letter says the senators “will oppose the motion to proceed” — which is the step required before a bill can come up for consideration. That means 60 votes would be needed to bring up the gun legislation.

Paul, R-Ky., staged a nearly 13-hour filibuster this year over the Obama administration's drone policy, which ended up delaying a final confirmation vote on CIA Director John Brennan. Cruz and Lee took part in that effort, coming to the Senate floor to ask their colleague questions, so he didn't have to speak the entire time.

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