After watching President Donald Trump edge back toward the National Rifle Association soon after embracing a series of gun control proposals last week, Congressional Democrats on Sunday vowed to push for votes in the House and Senate in coming days on legislation to deter future school shootings.
“Americans are fed up with the unbending position of the NRA which is to do nothing now and always, no matter how many lives are lost,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer said on Twitter.
“So many incredible young voices have stepped up to demand action on gun violence, yet the NRA continues to reject bipartisan calls to pass reasonable gun safety laws,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
With no school safety measures expected on the legislative schedule at this point, one Democrat mocked what the House would be doing on Monday – naming post offices – echoing what was once a frequent target for the GOP when Democrats were in charge of Congress.
As for what the President would support to deal with the aftermath of the mass shooting at a Florida high school last month, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the President still wants to see action on a bipartisan “Fix NICS” bill, which would funnel more information into the background check system for gun buyers.
“The background check system is something that he’s still very much interested in improving,” Sanders said to reporters on Friday, though she indicated that the President may not be as keen on a more comprehensive change to the system, as he had indicated at a Wednesday meeting with lawmakers.
“Not necessarily universal background checks, but certainly improving the background check system,” Sanders added. “Universal means something different to a lot of people.”
Any ideas that Democrats might have had about getting quick votes in Congress on guns – with the backing of President Trump – seemed to fade after a meeting Thursday night with top NRA officials.
“I had a great meeting,” said Chris Cox, the top lobbyist for the NRA, after he sat down in the Oval Office with both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
“We all want safe schools, mental health reform and to keep guns away from dangerous people,” Cox added on Twitter, going over some of the subjects raised in a Wednesday meeting which saw the President veer away from familiar Republican stances on gun controls.
At that initial meeting with lawmakers – which was fully televised – the President expressed his interesting supporting the Manchin-Toomey background check plan, which had drawn stern opposition from many Republicans and the NRA back in 2013, when it was filibustered in the Senate.
But that interest only seemed to last for two days.
“No one should be surprised by Trump’s forthcoming pivot back to the embrace of the gun lobby,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA). “We’ve seen this movie too many times.”
“Like they do on every other hot button issue, the White House is going to bob and weave on guns,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who was also at that Wednesday meeting.
The White House said the President spoke Thursday with House Speaker Paul Ryan about legislative efforts to address school safety, as both parties remain apart on the best answers.
“He wants to help move the ball down the field, so he’s going to keep having calls with a number of different members on how we can do that,” Sanders said.
But while no votes legislative action on school safety or gun restrictionis may be on the schedule, Democrats still have a larger hurdle in the way of broader gun control measures – there is a strong majority in favor of gun rights in both the House and Senate.