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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 
said Tuesday.

   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 
past?"

   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 
shootings.

   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.


(KR)

 
 
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