Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill used their first day back at work to renew their call for gun control, demanding the Senate vote on background checks legislation.
In a press conference Monday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer laid the blame for inaction on gun reform squarely on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump.
“Two people in Washington can make sure that background checks will pass: Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell,” Mr. Schumer said. “It’s totally up to them — totally up to them — and it’s on their shoulders.”
They specifically called out the president for appearing to enthusiastically support passing legislation on background checks in recent weeks before wavering.
In a letter to Mr. Trump, Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer urged him to intervene and buck GOP “fealty” to the National Rifle Association, arguing the rest of the GOP would follow his lead.
“You now have a historic opportunity to save lives simply by indicating your support for H.R. 8, the House-passed universal bipartisan background check legislation currently being blocked by Leader McConnell and the Republican majority in the Senate,” they wrote.
A string of mass shootings in Texas, Ohio and Virginia during the August recess renewed the drawn-out battle over gun control.
Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley, whose community lost nine people in an Aug. 4 mass shooting, joined the Democrats calling for the Senate to vote on the House’s background check bill.
The bill in question would expand the current system, which covers gun transactions involving licensed dealers, to include nearly all trades, sales or gifts.
It initially passed the House in February, with only eight Republicans supporting it, and has been stalled in the Senate ever since.
Democrats are also set to consider a handful of other gun control provisions later this week in the Judiciary committee.
Mr. McConnell has said that he won’t take up any gun bill that he knows the president won’t support.
Despite the apparent stalemate, Democrats are confident that public pressure will help sway Republican senators.
“There isn’t anyone in this institution or anyone else in public life whose political survival is more important than the survival of our children,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “We are not taking ‘no’ for an answer. We are not going away.”
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