Republicans put politics before national security and our troops.
Here are the basics:
- The Senate started debating the Defense Authorization Bill last Wednesday.
- In order to get a vote on the NRA's gun liability bill before the August recess, Frist filed a cloture motion on Friday to prematurely end debate on the Defense Authorization Bill and close the window for amendments (last year the Authorization Bill received 5 weeks of debate, and it usually gets between one and two weeks of debate).
- Just a few minutes ago, the Senate voted not to involve cloture and end debate on the Defense Authorization Bill.
- Rather than continue the debate on the Defense Authorization bill, Frist is pressing a motion to immediately proceed to the Gun Liability Bill. And he won't even agree to Reid's proposal that they immediately proceed to DoD Authorization after the Gun Liability bill is completed.
- In the debate just prior to the current vote, Boxer nailed Frist by asking the obvious question:
Does [the Republican leader] think [the gun liability bill] is more important than the defense authorization bill in a time of war?
The answer, of course, is "yes." Because, as Kos says:
For the Republican Party, the elephant always flies above the Stars and Stripes
Update [2005-7-26 13:59:4 by QWQ]: Although Frist failed in his effort to end debate on Defense Authorization, he succeeded in delaying debate until the fall and moving immediately to gun liability. The AP story is out, with a nice lede:
The Senate put off until fall completing a $491 billion defense bill in order to act this week on the National Rifle Association's top priority: shielding gun manufacturers and dealers from liability suits stemming from gun crimes.
Update [2005-7-26 16:16:9 by QWQ]: Several new reports have followed the initial AP report, with the most interesting coming from the Army Times. Here are the first two paragraphs:
Senate Republican leaders decided Tuesday that a gun manufacturers’ liability bill is more important than next year’s $441.6 billion defense authorization bill.
With Democrats expressing amazement that there could be any higher legislative priority in a time of war than the annual defense bill that includes money for pay and benefits, operations and maintenance, and weapons’ purchases and research, Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Senate Republican leader, decided Tuesday that a bill protecting gun manufacturers from lawsuits over the illegal use of firearms was a higher priority.
Also, several folks have noted in the comments that pandering to the NRA is not the only reason the Republicans wanted to delay the Defense Authorization bill -- the White House also wanted to avoid showdowns on detainee treatment and military base closings. The new AP story has that angle, as does this CBS edited version of the original AP story.