New Jersey Democrats unsuccessfully attempted on Thursday to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a gun-control bill when most GOP supporters of the legislation decided not to buck the presidential candidate.
The legislation would have prevented people with a documented history of mental illness from expunging that record to buy a gun.
The bill passed this year with nearly unanimous support from both Democrats and Republicans. None of the 120 members of the state Legislature voted against the bill; eight lawmakers were absent for the vote.
Mr. Christie, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, has been asked frequently about his position on the state’s strict gun-control laws while on the campaign trail.
The governor vetoed the bill last month, saying it added to confusion in what he called the patchwork of state gun laws. Mr. Christie recommended a comprehensive approach to tackling mental-health issues and shootings.
The override attempt failed 25-11 in the Senate. No lower-house vote was required. Two Republican senators broke ranks and joined the 23 Democrats present to support the override. No Republicans spoke about the bill on the floor.
“The Republican senators who reversed themselves and failed to support a bill that would help protect the public should be ashamed of their actions,” said Senate PresidentStephen Sweeney, a Democrat.
A spokesman for the Senate Republicans didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Christie has never had one of his vetoes overridden by the Democratic-controlled Legislature since he took office in 2010.
The governor has vetoed at least 398 bills since taking office, according to figures from the Office of Legislative Services, a number he has touted while on the campaign trail. During last week’s GOP debate, Mr. Christie has often pointed to his willingness to take on the state’s liberal legislature.
Democrats have tried at least 22 times to override Mr. Christie’s vetoes since he took office. Each time, they have failed to draw enough Republicans to switch sides for the two-thirds support needed to override a veto.
It takes 27 senators and 54 members of the Assembly to override a governor’s veto in New Jersey.
Democrats have attacked Mr. Christie for allegedly making decisions on bills with an eye to a national conservative audience instead of the good of New Jersey residents.
“My colleagues on the other side of the aisle, I get the politics of it when a governor is running for president and he takes a stand. But we are here in New Jersey,” Mr. Sweeney said Thursday.
A spokesman for Mr. Christie didn’t respond to a request for comment. The governor was in New Jersey Thursday to announce a new development in Camden, and he spoke about his efforts to strike bipartisan compromise.
“We care more about our state than we care about our party,” he said. “I’ve often said to people that twice now I’ve taken an oath of office, not an oath of party.”
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