Democrats pressure McConnell to take action on guns

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 02: (L-R) House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), House Speaker designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) talk to journalists following a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and fellow members of Congress about border security at the White House January 02, 2019 in Washington, DC. Trump and House Democrats are no closer to a deal on funding for Trump’s border wall and reopening parts of the federal government that have been shuttered for the past 12 days. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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House Democrats held a press conference Tuesday with family members and friends of victims of mass shootings to pressure Mitch McConnell to bring the Senate back and vote on the House-passed background checks bills.

“Is it the solution to all this violence? It is not … it is a significant and important step to take in the face of this violence,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said at the press conference, adding “Not to act is a refusal to meet our responsibilities to the American people.” Not acting is precisely what Mitch McConnell intends to do in hopes that this will all blow over soon. Democrats intend, apparently, to spend the remainder of the August recess pushing him.

In coordination, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is going to demand that the Trump administration withdraw its request for $5 billion in border wall funding (which Senate Republicans are threatening to take from other domestic spending bills) and allocate it toward “FBI domestic terrorism investigations, Department of Homeland Security initiatives to counter violent extremism, and federal health agency research on gun violence.”

“The dual scourges of gun violence and violent white supremacist extremism in this country are a national security threat plain and simple, and it’s time the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress start treating them as such,” Schumer said in a statement to Politico. “Now Republicans and this administration need to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to addressing gun violence and stopping the rise of domestic terrorism, especially stemming from white supremacy. Democrats are prepared to work in a bipartisan fashion to respond to Director Wray’s clarion call on a briefing call with Senate Democrats last week for additional resources to address this national security crisis on our own soil.”

A source close to Schumer emphasizes that this is not a substitute for the House-passed background checks bills and that Schumer will continue to press for votes. Democrats should be doing it from the Senate floor every pro forma session for the rest of the month.

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