Politics & Government

In 15-hour guns filibuster, senator gets personal

During gun violence filibuster, senator tells son to go to bed

Nine hours into waging a nearly 15-hour filibuster on the Senate floor, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut spoke to his 7-year-old son, who was watching in the Senate gallery. He didn't realize he was there and told him to "go to bed." After Republi
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Nine hours into waging a nearly 15-hour filibuster on the Senate floor, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut spoke to his 7-year-old son, who was watching in the Senate gallery. He didn't realize he was there and told him to "go to bed." After Republi

For most of a nearly 15-hour filibuster that stretched into the early hours of Thursday morning, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut spoke to a largely empty chamber with a handful of his Democratic colleagues, calling for action on two Democratic gun control amendments in the wake of the Orlando shooting.

But just after 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night, Murphy turned to address someone else instead — his older son Owen, 7, sitting above in the Senate gallery.

Murphy was addressing fellow Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s question about the impact of the Newtown shooting, calling for Congress to follow his home state legislature’s lead after the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings that claimed 20 schoolchildren’s lives.

“Connecticut is still reeling to this day,” he said on the floor. But both “Republicans and Democrats came together to ban dangerous assault weapons” after the 2012 slaying, he said, resulting in “an immediate impact on the safety of residents.”

Then he paused, and looked up.

“Senator Blumenthal, if I could, I would just note for a moment… when one of our colleagues had a moment to hold the floor for an extended period of time, he read a story to his kids who were at home. I actually didn’t know this was going to occur but my oldest little boy just showed up in the gallery.”

He looked up at his son. “A, you’re supposed to be in bed.”

People in the chamber laughed.

“B, I’m sorry that I missed pizza night. And C…”

Murphy paused.

“I hope that you’ll understand, someday, why we’re doing this. Why we have been standing here for eight hours trying to fight to make our country a safer and better place and why sometimes even if you don’t get everything that you want, trying hard — trying and trying and trying to do the right thing — is ultimately just as important as getting the outcome in the end.’’

“So go to bed.”

Then Murphy addressed the floor again, clearly emotional.

“This is, for those of us who are parents, deeply, deeply personal. This is about protecting not just every kid in this country, but our kids personally.”

He then yielded to a question from Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, but not without adding quickly that his son had not been wandering the halls of Congress by himself.

“My wife is up there by the way too,” he said. “He didn’t come alone.”

Murphy would continue speaking and debating with his colleagues until early Thursday morning, when he announced shortly before 2 a.m. that Democrats and Republicans had at last come to a compromise to allow a vote on background checks and the watch list ban, though the amendments are unlikely to succeed. He ceded the floor at 2:11 a.m.

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