Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on Wednesday criticized his fellow Republicans for supporting a Democratic gun control bill before they’ve seen its details.
Cruz, who is from Texas, where gun control is not popular, told radio host Laura Ingraham that the situation reminds him of when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke about Obamacare in 2010, saying Democrats had to pass the bill "before we know what's in it." The senator said he won’t support that.
“A lot of the Republicans who are saying that they are happy to vote -- to shut off debate and move the bill -- they don’t even know what the bill contains,” Cruz said. “The bill that these Republicans are going on television and saying we’ve got to move to and vote on, they still don’t know the details, because the Democrats haven’t released the details of the bill that they are moving to proceed to.”
Cruz said he thinks any legislation that could potentially infringe on the Bill of Rights should get a 60-vote threshold. He is among at least 12 senators planning to filibuster the gun control bill.
The Senate will have a procedural vote Thursday on whether to take up the 2013 gun control measure. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., wants lawmakers to pass gun control legislation that will expand background checks, increase funds for school safety, and apply harsher punishment to straw purchasers.
In order to attract bipartisan support that could save the measure, Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., on Wednesday announced a compromise agreement to expand background checks to gun shows and purchases made online. It will not include transactions between family members.
“This is a start,” Manchin, a pro-gun lawmaker, said in a press conference.
When asked about the bipartisan amendment before the announcement, Cruz said he doesn’t agree with that particular proposal.
“The biggest problem -- and it is a problem that is also true with the compromise bill that’s coming out today -- is that the Justice Department has explained the only way to enforce universal background checks is for the federal government to maintain a gun registry -- a list of all the firearms that [are] in possession of every American across this country,” Cruz said.
The senator argued that in 2010, more than 15,000 felons tried to illegally purchase guns, but only 44 of them were prosecuted by the Justice Department.
“In my view, maintaining a federal gun registry raises very serious constitutional concerns and is not consistent with the Second Amendment, and it has historically been the predicate for gun taxation, gun regulation and, ultimately, gun confiscation,” he added. “I think that’s what this fight is all about, and it’s really unfortunate to see politicians not focusing on 'Let’s prosecute the felons and fugitives who are trying to illegally buy guns,' which would actually go toward crime and stopping violent crime. Instead [they are] trying to use this as an excuse to set the stage for a national gun registry. I think we should vigorously protect the liberties in the Bill of Rights. That, to my mind, is what this fight is fundamentally about and at the same time stopping violent crime.”
Listen to the audio of Cruz's full interview.