The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote an odd and compelling speculative piece about the Thune Amendment gun-rights vote on the floor of the House Wednesday. He reports that he witnessed gamesmanship among the Democrats, including Colorado Democratic U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet. They voted for gun-rights but only after New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who was tallying the votes, gave them the thumbs up. Total hogwash! say Bennet and Udall spokespeople. It’s a tale without any substantiation. It’s a Rorschach test. You see what you want to see in it.
Only two Republicans went against the gun lobby, but that was enough to leave supporters just short of the 60 votes they needed. The slim margin was no accident: Other Democrats, such as Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey and Colorado’s Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, were said to have been willing to vote “no” if necessary. Twenty minutes after the voting began, Bennet and Udall left the cloakroom together and walked into the chamber. Bennet went to the well to consult with Schumer, who indicated that it was safe for Bennet — a product of D.C.’s St. Albans School — to vote with the NRA. Bennet looked to Udall, who gave an approving nod, and cast his “aye” vote.
Columnist Dana Milbank’s conclusion was off by a country mile, Bennet spokeswoman Deirdre Murphy said.
“Michael does not ask permission on any of his votes,” Murphy said in a statement. “Michael gave this vote a lot of thought, considered its effect on Colorado, and came to his own decision.”
Milbank’s scattershot take that suggested Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey also sought dispensation on the vote missed the bull’s-eye, Udall spokeswoman Tara Trujillo said.
“Sen. Udall had staff researching the reach of the Colorado law as late as Tuesday night, and after we learned that Colorado’s reciprocity law had such a low threshold, he did not think the states’-rights argument against the Thune Amendment would hold up,” Trujillo said.
Colorado GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams was gleeful.
Having a Colorado senator crawl up to a New York senator and seek permission on how to vote is breathtaking even by Bennet’s standards.