Republicans and liberal Democrats on Thursday blocked an election-year Senate bill that would help hunters and give a boost to Democrats facing tight re-election races in GOP-leaning states.
The bipartisan measure would open more federal lands to hunters and other sportsmen, increasing funds for shooting ranges and blocking government curbs on bullets and fishing gear containing lead. It also would renew some conservation programs.
The vote was 56-41 against ending debate on the bill, which derailed the legislation. Supporters were 19 votes short of the 60 needed to move to a vote on final passage.
All 45 Republicans voted against moving ahead on the legislation -- enough to block the bill -- as did 11 Democrats.
Republicans had complained that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would not let them offer amendments, some of which would have further expanded gun rights. Reid blocked all amendments on Wednesday, saying Republicans were refusing to narrow theirs down to a manageable number.
Some Democrats favoring gun control opposed the legislation after saying they wanted to offer amendments of their own curbing firearms.
North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, the chief Democratic sponsor, and several other Democratic co-sponsors in competitive re-election races were hoping the bill might enhance their appeal to pro-gun voters.
Those races will be crucial in determining which party controls the Senate next year.