Updated June 16 at 4:45 p.m.
After 15 hours of standing on the Senate floor and lamenting congressional inaction on guns, this is what Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut had won: the chance to vote, again, on measures to expand background checks and keep suspected terrorists from buying firearms.
There’s no guarantee those amendments will pass when they come up early next week—and indeed, it is far more probable that they will fail. Like other senators who have exhausted their voices, their feet, and their bladders with lengthy protest speeches in recent years—Ted Cruz and Rand Paul the most well-known among them—Murphy is unlikely to win an immediate change of policy with his demonstration of verbal endurance. But for him and the dozens of other Democrats who joined his filibuster, the opportunity to force senators to again take a recorded vote on guns in the wake of Sunday’s massacre in Orlando is at least a token victory.
Shortly after 2 a.m. Eastern, Murphy finally walked off the floor after reporting that Republicans had agreed to hold votes on Democratic gun proposals as amendments to an appropriations bill funding the Commerce and Justice Departments that the Senate had been debating. On Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that he would have allowed those votes anyway, and perhaps earlier, if Murphy and his colleagues had not taken over the floor for the entire afternoon and evening. He dismissed the filibuster as a “campaign talk-a-thon” and pointed out that Democrats missed a classified briefing with the FBI director on the Orlando investigation to stage it. “It’s hard to think of a clearer contrast between serious work for solutions on the one hand and endless partisan campaigning on the other,” McConnell said.