Sen. Rick Scott, head of the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, said Thursday he will vote against the bipartisan gun bill that has won the blessing of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, putting more distance between the two powerbrokers.
Mr. Scott, Florida Republican, said the good parts of the bill are outweighed by the bad, and he said the proposal is far different than the legislation he signed as Florida’s governor following the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“These bills are not the same at all,” Mr. Scott said in a statement. “One was the product of a collaborative, well-defined and transparent process. The other was the result of secret backroom dealings that did not include input from the majority of Republican members, committee hearings, nor opportunities for amendments, giving members barely an hour to read the bill before we were asked to vote on it.”
“The bill the Senate is considering abandons Florida’s model and allows even the most radical policies, like California’s red flag law, to be implemented and supported with federal funding,” he said. “Ironclad due process protections are essential to protecting the constitutional rights of Americans and we can NEVER compromise on that.”
For his part, Mr. McConnell, who is the odds on favorite to become majority leader if the GOP flips the Senate in the midterms, praised the proposal.
“Our colleagues have put together a common-sense package of popular steps that will help make [mass shooting] incidents less likely, while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, who is responsible for greenlighting bipartisan negotiations that made the gun deal possible.
In a 64-34 vote, Mr. McConnell and 13 other Senate Republicans advance the bill in a procedural vote, providing the needed votes to survive in the chamber.
The bill is heading for passage in the Senate on Thursday and then to almost certain approval by the Democrat-run House before Congress leaves Friday for a two-week vacation.
Mr. Scott is among several Republicans to come out against the proposal.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP Whip Steve Scalise are actively whipping members of their conference to vote no on the bill.
The House GOP leaders are seeking to show unwavering resolve within the House GOP against gun control.
The bill seeks to boost funding for school security and mental health treatment. It also tightens the background check system for gun purchases by including domestic violence and juvenile records.
And it creates a new block grant program to subsidize states that adopt red flag laws, which allow courts to confiscate firearms from individuals deemed a threat, or set up other crisis intervention programs.
Mr. Scott said he wants the Senate to go back to the drawing board.
“I was hopeful the Senate would follow an open and thorough process like we did in Florida,” he said. “That is unfortunately not the case with the current bill and why I will vote no.”