The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Why Harry Reid Voted No - And Other Interesting Things from Wednesday's Vote

2013 April 19

by Ben Raker


After Wednesday's vote in the Senate on President Obama's proposed gun bill, the Internet was rife with mixed emotions. All seven of the proposed amendments failed, from the bi-partisan Manchin-Toomey amendment that, according to fact sheet released by the senators, would have expanded background checks; to the Republican Grassley-Cruz amendment, which, according to the Senators, would have “ensured that relevant mental health records are submitted by states” to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

It was clear from the President's Rose Garden address after the vote that he was not happy about the result. Others, generally from the other side of the aisle, were pleased with the bill's (and it's amendments') failure (see here, here, and here).

And then there were people who were just confused. One major source of confusion came from the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev). Reid has long been supportive of various gun control measures and had spoken recently about his willingness to vote for the Manchin-Toomey amendment. Then, on Wednesday, he voted “no”. This seemingly obvious about-face led to a variety of outbursts in the Twitterverse and elsewhere about where Mr. Reid's allegiance lay. Alas, the truth of this Nevada Democrat's intentions are much more mundane. The reason for Reid's “no” vote was Senate Rule XIII. According to this rule, only a senator from the “prevailing side”, or one who doesn't vote, can enter a motion to reconsider the vote. Reid voted “no” in order ...

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