LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday repeated a thinly veiled threat to filibuster new gun control legislation when the Senate reconvenes in Washington next month.
Kentucky’s junior senator stopped short of using the word “filibuster” while talking to reporters after a speech at the University of Kentucky. But Paul did say that new legislation will have “significant opposition” and the Senate will need 60 votes to advance it. The Senate requires 60 votes to cut off debate. A filibuster is a procedural tactic used to block a measure from coming to a vote.
Paul and fellow Republican senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee already threatened to oppose gun control legislation on Monday in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The letter also didn’t include the word “filibuster” but said the senators will oppose a “motion to proceed” on a gun control bill, leaving little doubt of their intention to try to block the legislation.
Paul filibustered for 13 hours straight earlier this month against the nomination of John Brennan to lead the CIA, citing concerns about the Obama administration’s use of unmanned drones. The Senate ultimately voted to confirm Brennan.
“We want to make sure that they know that there’s going to be significant opposition to (a gun control bill),” Paul said Wednesday. “That will probably mean that they’ll have to have a 60-vote margin to try to pass any legislation.”
The Senate’s Democratic leadership has been trying to muster 60 votes to advance a gun control bill in the wake of the December massacre that killed 20 children at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Democrats earlier this month dropped a proposal to reinstate a ban on military-style weapons. The legislation still contains measures to expand federal background checks for firearms buyers, increase federal penalties for illegal gun trafficking and boost school safety money.
Paul spoke to a capacity crowd of mainly college students in a university auditorium, repeating his calls for more limited government, debt reduction and leaving issues like gay marriage to the states.
He said he will continue to press the federal government to give a waiver to Kentucky and other states to grow industrial hemp. Kentucky’s General Assembly approved a measure Tuesday that would open the door to hemp farming if the federal government lifts its ban of the plant. Kentucky’s governor hasn’t indicated whether he’ll sign the bill.
Talking to reporters afterward, Paul said he won’t decide until next year whether he’ll run for president in 2016. His father, former Texas congressman Ron Paul, ran for president three times.
Rand Paul said he wants to have an impact on the Republican Party and the country.
“I want to be part of a national debate,” he said “I think the country faces a lot of problems and I do want to be part of trying to bring about answers and solutions and making the Republican Party big enough so we can be competitive again.”
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