poster=”https://static.politico.com/32/e7/8d3fc6e14b7393340f0edc639e3a/dingellhoyer.png” true Congress ‘Enough is enough’: Dems pressure McConnell to act on guns House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also said the Judiciary Committee would return to Washington early to consider new proposals to curb gun violence. By HEATHER CAYGLE 08/13/2019 03:03 PM EDT Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Several House Democrats, led by Majority…
Several House Democrats, led by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, descended on an empty Capitol on Tuesday to demand Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately return to Washington and take action to curb gun violence.
“I’ve been in politics for a long time. It takes no courage to put on the Senate floor a bill that is supported by 90 percent of America,” Hoyer, flanked by people who lost loved ones in mass shootings, told reporters. “What takes courage is to look a special interest group in the eye and say enough is enough, it’s time to act.”
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But Democrats’ latest attempt to pressure Republicans into quickly passing their universal background checks legislation is likely to fall short.
McConnell has already ruled out ending the recess early and said the Senate will address the issue when the chamber returns in September. President Donald Trump, who has spoken positively about new gun safety efforts, has also declined to ask Congress to reconvene.
At least some Democrats, on the other hand, are likely to return to Washington early.
Hoyer, fresh off leading dozens of Democrats on a weeklong visit to Israel, said the House Judiciary Committee will come back over recess to approve additional gun control legislation. He also did not rule out the House using other tactics to pressure McConnell, including through the funding bills Congress must pass to keep the government open beyond Sept. 30.
Assault Weapons Background Checks Weapon Registry
But the No. 2 Democrat did not say what bills the Judiciary panel will consider or when, and he gave no indication the full House would return early, as some lawmakers demanded last week.
House Democrats have repeatedly called on McConnell to allow a vote on their universal background checks legislation since two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, left 31 people dead two weekends ago.
The bill, which would require background checks for nearly all gun purchases, passed the House earlier this year and represented the first major action on gun control in Congress in nearly a decade.
That’s despite a spate of mass shootings in recent years from the massacre of twenty 6- and 7-year old children in Newtown in 2012 to the shooting deaths of 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando in 2016 to the murder of 17 students and faculty members at a Parkland, Fla., high school last year.
Universal background checks continue to be broadly supported by the public — including more than 90 percent of voters in a recent POLITICO/Morning Consult poll — but the issue has continued to divide lawmakers along partisan lines.
Trump threatened to veto the House-passed background checks bill after it passed in February. But in the wake of the most recent deadly shootings, the president has repeatedly expressed support for background checks without endorsing any specific legislation.
“Look, it’s very simple — there is nobody more pro-Second Amendment than Donald Trump,” the president told reporters on Tuesday. “But I don’t want guns in the hands of a lunatic or a maniac. And I think if we do proper background checks you could prevent that.”
“I am convinced that Mitch wants to do something. I’ve spoken to Mitch McConnell — he’s a good man. He wants to do something,” Trump continued.
McConnell has not endorsed any specific legislation and has said only proposals to expand background checks and red flag laws, which are intended to keep guns away from unstable people, would be “front and center” when the Senate returns after Labor Day. McConnell also wouldn’t rule out considering an assault weapons ban but the idea is likely to receive little, if any, Republican support.
told a Kentucky radio station last week.
In the meantime, Trump has privately spoken to several lawmakers over the past week to gauge support for gun control legislation.
Trump had a “good conversation” with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the president told reporters Tuesday. And he called Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) late last week after she sent him a letter demanding he bring the Senate back in session over recess.
Trump has also spoken to Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) about their background checks legislation and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), among others.
Schumer plans to formally ask that Trump withdraw his request to spend $5 billion at the border, and instead spend the money on addressing “gun violence and violent white supremacist extremism,” a source familiar with the plans told POLITICO Playbook.
But despite Trump’s calls for action, many Senate Republicans still have concerns about passing new background checks legislation as well as red flag laws.
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said Tuesday he had not seen any “meaningful” proposals that would sufficiently protect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners — and that includes red flag laws, a more modest effort than universal background checks.
“The challenge you have with any of these is that you have to have an adjudication process in place before you take away someone’s constitutional right,” Rounds told reporters in the Capitol.
“It doesn’t mean that there is not another proposal out there someplace which we will consider but there’s a reason why a lot of this stuff has not been done already,” he added. “And that is because it’s not as easy as what it sounds like.”
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