Shortly before the U.S. Senate voted to debate a polarizing gun-control bill Thursday morning, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) delivered an impassioned plea to his colleagues to "stand up and be counted."
In a 10-minute speech on the Senate floor, Leahy repeated that refrain over and over again, appearing as if he was seeking to shame his fellow senators into voting on the legislation, regardless of where they stood.
"Stand up and be counted! Stand up and be counted!" he said, nearly shouting. "Don't give speeches saying you're in favor of law enforcement, but we're going to take away the tools law enforcement needs. Stand up and be counted. Stand up and be counted."
Calling Republican efforts to stall debate an "ill-conceived filibuster," Leahy said, "Americans across this great country are looking to us for solutions and action, not filibustering or sloganeering. Americans are saying, 'Stand up and be counted.'"
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Not long after Leahy's speech, the Senate voted 68 to 31 in favor of taking up the legislation. The bill includes several provisions passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Leahy chairs, including a measure the Vermont senator wrote that cracks down on gun traffickers and "straw" purchasers.
The legislation received a major boost earlier this week when Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.) signed off on a bipartisan plan to extend background checks to unlicensed firearms dealers. The bill does not include more controversial proposals, such as a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition, though such measures will likely reappear in the form of amendments on the floor next week.
The others who voted in favor of debating the bill were Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), 49 other Democrats, 16 Republicans and another independent. Two Democrats and 29 Republicans opposed ending the filibuster.