On Tuesday, May 24th, a gunman in Texas killed 21 people in a school in Uvalde, Texas. The act of violence has been condemned by politicians across the aisle, with Senate Democrats calling for more gun control, including background checks, more specifically the approval of HR-8, which has already been passed by the house, but awaiting approval by the Senate.
The reason why the Democratic controlled Senate cannot pass the bill is because of a little thing called the filibuster. In the 1900’s and before, a filibuster was when a senator talked for as long as they could to stall a bill from passing. If the senator needed to leave the podium for whatever reason, voting could resume. However, nowadays, a Senator doesn’t even need to be present to do a filibuster. They would just need to declare that they are doing a filibuster, and then 60 votes would be needed to remove the filibuster. The only problem is that there are only 50 democrats in the Senate (plus tiebreaker Kamala Harris). This would mean that at least 10 Republican senators would need to sign on to the bill, which they are not doing (if you want a reason for this, it is most likely because Republican Senators are given heavy funding from the NRA, a gun lobbyist group. For example, Utah Junior Senator, 2012 Republican Nominee for President, and former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney has accepted more than 13.6 million dollars worth of campaign donations from the NRA).
Now, you might be thinking, “Why can’t we just end the filibuster?” Well, the reason is complicated. While the filibuster is not in the Constitution, ending it would have big costs for the Democrat’s, because in the future, if Republicans obtain the majority, then Democrats would have trouble blocking unfavorable bills. For now, it seems that HR-8 is probably stalled, and there would have to be a democratic wave year in 2022 for Democrats to get enough votes to overcome the filibuster. So, for know, the fate of HR-8 seems to be in limbo.