The Democrats wanted to introduce a law on domestic terrorism that has already been passed in the House of Representatives, in the hope that it could open up a debate on hate crime and gun regulations.
Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer tried to persuade Republicans, but the proposal to open a debate on the law fell by 47 to 47 votes. 60 votes are needed to open the debate, but all Republicans voted against.
The vote indicates that it will be difficult to have a proper debate in Congress on gun legislation or on any compromises.
“None of us have any illusion that this will be easy,” Schumer said before the vote.
The vote was proposed in the wake of the killings of ten African Americans in a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, and a shooting incident in a California church. But it was overshadowed by the new mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed.
Schumer says that in the next two weeks while the Senate has a break, he will prepare a proposal for a compromise. A small group of moderate senators from both parties who have long tried to negotiate regulations, met after the vote with several proposals.