Since around 11:20 a.m. ET Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy has been maintaining a talking filibuster on the floor of the Senate, interrupting debate over a spending bill. Murphy, along with several other Democratic senators, wants to add amendments to the bill to require universal background checks for gun purchases and prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing guns. This latest push for tougher gun legislation comes in the wake of the tragic shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, perpetrated by a man who had briefly been on the FBI's terrorist watch list and who purchased his guns legally. How long will Senator Murphy's filibuster last?
According to Murphy himself, it's going to last however long it takes to get what he and his fellow Democratic senators want:
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's filibuster could technically go on for as long as he can keep talking. That is, unless a cloture vote against the filibuster is achieved. That would require at least 60 senators voting to end it and resume debate on the bill.
There is a glimmer of hope regarding an amendment to prevent suspected terrorists from legally purchasing guns, as both Republicans and Democrats are hashing out proposals in this vein. But the proposals differ concerning what entity has the power to deny suspects' attempted purchases. Republican lawmakers want to give the power to decide whether someone was mistakenly placed on a terrorist watch list to judges, a proposal the NRA has backed. Democrats think that decision should be in the hands of the Justice Department.
There is less hope that lawmakers in the Senate will reach consensus regarding an amendment on universal background checks. Backed strongly by Democrats, such proposals have been voted down by most Senate Republicans, who currently hold a majority, both in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2013 and the San Bernardino shootings at the end of 2015.
Murphy and his Senate allies are hoping the filibuster will pile pressure on Republicans to support universal background checks, and both parties to reach a consensus regarding how best to keep firearms out of the hands of suspected terrorists. And he's planning to filibuster for as long as it takes to get there.