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Gun safety bill clears Senate filibuster, advances toward final vote


(WASHINGTON) — The Senate voted Thursday to cut off debate on a gun safety bill crafted amid a disturbing uptick in shootings across the U.S.

Fifteen Republicans sided with all 50 members of the Democratic caucus to clear the procedural hurdle, setting the chamber on a path to pass the legislation by the end of the week. If cleared by Congress, the package will be the first major piece of federal gun reform in almost 30 years.

Republicans who voted to advance the legislation on Thursday were Sens. Mitch McConnell, Richard Burr, Susan Collins, John Cornyn, Lindsey Graham, Mitt Romney, Thom Tillis, Pat Toomey, Todd Young, Roy Blunt, Shelley Moore Capito, Rob Portman, Joni Ernst, Bill Cassidy and Lisa Murkowski.

Senate rules generally require 30 additional hours of debate after the cloture vote, but Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he wanted to get unanimous agreement to dismiss that requirement and hold a final vote on Thursday.

It’s unclear if such a move would be supported by Republicans. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said some of his colleagues have amendments to the bill they want to be considered first.

The House will need to pass the measure before it can be signed into law.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., promised to “swiftly” bring the gun safety package to the floor once it passes the Senate, “so that we can send it to President Biden’s desk.”

On Wednesday, House Republicans encouraged members to vote against the gun safety package.

“The bill throws emergency supplemental federal spending at states to encourage implementation of red flag laws and dramatically increases funding for numerous other grant programs, but the bill’s vague language contains insufficient guardrails to ensure that the money is actually going towards keeping guns out of the hands of criminals or preventing mass violence,” House Republican Whip Steve Scalise’s office wrote in a memo to Republican lawmakers obtained by ABC News.

Key aspects of the legislation include expanded federal background checks for buyers under the age of 21, financial incentives for states to pass “red flag” laws and other intervention programs and closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole.”

The bill comes with a $13.2 billion price tag, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office announced on Wednesday. According to the office, the bill will be fully paid for by once again delaying a Trump-era ban on prescription drug rebates in Medicare.

Both Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are backing the legislation — which was hammered out by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the weeks after the tragic shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

“This bipartisan gun-safety legislation is progress and will save lives,” Schumer said earlier this week. “While it is not everything we want, this legislation is urgently-needed.”

The gun safety bill’s advancement in the Senate came just hours after the Supreme Court struck down a New York law regulating concealed handguns in public that mandated residents demonstrate a specific need to carry a handgun outside of the home.

ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel contributed to this report.

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