Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) launched a talking filibuster on the Senate floor - which was quickly joined by fellow Democrats - in an effort to pressure Republicans to accept legislation that would deny suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms and require universal background checks.
The Senate is debating a spending bill that Democrats hope to offer gun amendments to, but Murphy said that the Senate should "not proceed with debate on amendments to this bill until we have figured out a way to come together on, at the very least, two simple ideas."
"I'm going to remain on this floor until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together on these two measures, that we can get a path forward on addressing this epidemic in a meaningful, bipartisan way," Murphy continued on the Senate floor on Wednesday, after he first started his filibuster at about 11:20 a.m.
Murphy, a top gun-control advocate whose home state saw the massacre of 20 school children at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, launched the filibuster, and was immediately backed up by colleagues Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). More Senate Democrats are expected to join the talk-a-thon throughout the day and night on Wednesday - the same day presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with the National Rifle Association.
The NRA has backed an approach favored by Senate Republicans that would allow a judge to arbitrate people who mistakenly end up on the terrorism watch list and want to buy guns, while Democrats prefer giving the Justice Department such authority. Both approaches were voted down by the Senate last December.
Senate Democrats are refusing to give up the floor, which prevents any amendment votes on the spending bill currently being considered by the chamber that provides funding for the Justice Department and other related agencies. The tactics by Democrats are likely to prevent some senators from attending an all-senators briefing on the Orlando attacks at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
"Senator Murphy and Senate Democrats are holding the floor because they will not accept inaction or half measures in the face of continued slaughter," Murphy spokesman Chris Harris said. "Congress cannot sit on the sidelines while killers freely buy weapons to brutally murder the people Congress is supposed to be protecting."
Democrats are attempting to pressure Republicans on tougher gun-control laws after the Orlando mass shooting in which 49 people were killed and at least 50 were injured at a gay nightclub early Sunday morning. Because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has not filed cloture on the bill, Senate Democrats can talk indefinitely.
"I've cleared my entire day," Booker said. "I've cleared my evening events ... so that I can stay on this floor and support Sen. Murphy."
The Democrats' floor fight came as some potential signs of compromise arose on gun measures in the Senate. A spokeswoman for Everytown for Gun Safety, the pro-gun control group led by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, confirmed Wednesday morning that they were working with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) on measures to ensure suspected terrorists could not purchase weapons.
Toomey's office declined requests for comment on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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