McConnell: In Holding Pattern on Guns 09/18 06:15
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Six weeks after a pair of mass shootings killed more than
30 people, Congress remains "in a holding pattern" on gun control as lawmakers
await proposals from the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
While President Donald Trump has said he would veto a House-passed bill to
expand background checks for gun purchases, McConnell said he is hopeful there
are other gun-related proposals that Congress can approve and Trump can support.
"I still await guidance from the White House as to what (Trump) thinks he's
comfortable signing," the Kentucky Republican told reporters. "If and when that
happens, then we'll have a real possibility of actually changing the law and
hopefully making some progress."
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said McConnell and Trump were
blocking meaningful action on gun violence, adding, "This is the moment for the
president to do something different and courageous."
The New York Democrat said he wonders whether Trump will "rise to the
occasion, or will he squander this opportunity as he always has done in the
Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Trump on Sunday that any
proposal on gun control must include the House-passed bill to expand background
checks. Pelosi and Schumer spoke with Trump by phone and said they made it
clear any proposal that does not include the House legislation "will not get
the job done" because dangerous loopholes will be left open.
Schumer said Tuesday he was "not encouraged by what the president said," but
remained committed to pushing for stricter gun control measures. Senate
Democrats planned to speak for hours on the Senate floor Tuesday to urge
passage of background checks and other measures in the wake of mass shootings
in Texas and Ohio last month that killed more than three dozen people.
Trump and White House aides have discussed a number of gun-control measures
with members of Congress, including steps to go after fraudulent buyers, notify
state and local law enforcement when a potential buyer fails a background
check, issue state-level emergency risk protection orders, boost mental health
assistance and speed up executions for those found guilty of committing mass
Trump hopes to reveal something on gun control to the American public "very
soon," White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Tuesday. The White House expects
the gun proposal later this week or early next week, according to a person
familiar with the administration's thinking.
Attorney General William Barr and White House legislative affairs director
Eric Ueland met with GOP senators Tuesday to talk about a path forward. Senate
Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said background checks
remained under discussion, but it was not clear whether progress was being made.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said background checks did not come up during a
lunch meeting Tuesday between Senate Republicans and Vice President Mike Pence.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., cautioned against overinterpreting the relative
silence by the White House. "My guess is they're still vetting ideas, proposals
and kind of putting together their plan," he said.
Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who has helped lead a bipartisan
push to expand background checks, said he had not spoken to Trump since late
last week. Manchin said he considers a proposal he is offering with
Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey a starting point for legislative action.
"You can't water it down because that's the bedrock," Manchin said, adding
that senators and the White House haven't agreed on anything yet. "We're just
going to see where it goes," he said.