Sen Mike Lee says media had gun bill text before senators

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The Senate gun bill is going to be a controversial matter for the foreseeable future. After all, not only will the bill not accomplish a blasted thing, but 14 Republican senators sold out their gun rights supporting constituency in order to get to the point at which we find ourselves.

The first vote was held with lightning speed, something that should have all of us at least a little concerned, even if you support everything in the bill.

Yet Sen. Mike Lee mentioned something that may be an even bigger concern.

U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) slammed the process after the Senate held a vote Tuesday to advance a bipartisan gun control bill, giving lawmakers less than an hour to read the bill before the vote, but not before it was leaked to the media.

“This is the Senate operating at its worst,” Lee told BlazeTV host Glenn Beck on the radio Wednesday morning, griping that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has also prevented lawmakers from offering amendments to improve the bill.

Senators voted 64 to 34 Tuesday in favor of a motion to proceed for an 80-page bill called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The bill is the result of weeks-long negotiations between Republicans and Democrats on gun control measures deemed a priority after the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.

But Lee, who did not vote for the motion to proceed, criticized the fact that Republicans who did not take part in the negotiations were asked to take a blind vote without reading the bill.

“There were a group of senators, ten Republicans and ten Democrats, who got together and wrote this behind closed doors. I hope they read it. But I don’t think anyone else had the chance to. In fact, by yesterday afternoon, mid-afternoon, a number of news media outlets were reporting that they had the bill text. Senators still didn’t,” Lee said.

“We received the bill text, just moments before we were expected to vote on it. It ended up getting an overwhelming vote, because basically all of Democrats and ten or 15 Republicans voted for it. This is stunning to me. This is not how the Senate is supposed to operate,” he added.

Lee has every right to be upset here. He should be upset. Everyone should be.

While I noted on Wednesday that the bill was pretty much what we expected, more or less, it could well have been something different.

The truth of the matter is that most lawmakers vote for laws they never read. Many of these bills are thousands of pages long and no one is really interested in reading through all of that. The Senate gun bill was only about 80 pages, which is a shorter read than many.

That doesn’t make any of this right, though. You don’t drop a bill on lawmakers just moments before expecting them to vote.

In 2020, Sen. Rand Paul introduced the Read The Bills Act. The purpose of that bill was, basically, to make sure stuff like this couldn’t happen.

The bill got no co-sponsors.

In other words, most of Paul’s colleagues were apparently fine with the status quo. Since Sen. Lee was in office at that time, I have to include him in this.

Well, this is what happens when there’s really no obligation to read the bills before voting. The media will get the text of the bill before the senators and those senators will be asked to vote on a bill they haven’t gotten past the title of.

Of course, there shouldn’t be a need for a law regarding reading the bills. It shouldn’t be an issue because there’s no reason to believe anyone who isn’t trying to pull a fast one would pull a stunt like this.

Yet here we are.