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Sen. Jon Tester, Montana Democrat, said the initial amendment was purely political and designed to provide fodder for attack ads opposing pro-gun senators who opted to vote against the broader lifting of the ban.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, said Mr. Paul’s invoking the NRA’s position on the issue was a “red light” to everyone.

“With all due respect, if we want to vote on the parking lot amendment, let’s vote on the parking lot amendment,” she said.