McConnell, GOP Senate resist calls to ‘do something’

Published 7:50 am Thursday, August 8, 2019

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is resisting pressure to bring senators back from recess to address gun violence, taking a more measured approach that could very likely result in no legislation, despite wrenching calls to “do something” in the aftermath of back-to-back mass shootings.

President Donald Trump is privately calling up senators — and publicly pushing for an expansion of background checks for firearms purchases — but McConnell knows those ideas have little Republican support. In fact, the White House threatened to veto a House-passed background checks bill earlier this year. As the nation reels from the frequency of shootings and their grave toll, McConnell’s slow-walk is coming under criticism from those who want Congress to act.

On Wednesday, Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown made a plea to Trump during the president’s visit to Dayton, where one of the mass shooting occurred, to “call on Sen. McConnell to bring the Senate back in session this week, to tell the Senate he wants the background checks bill that has already passed the House.”

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A group of House Democrats urged McConnell to immediately call the Senate back into session to consider the House-passed legislation. In Kentucky, where McConnell is recuperating from a weekend fall that left his shoulder fractured, activists have been demonstrating at his home and protesting at his downtown Louisville office.

“We are aggressively moving forward in pressing Leader Mitch McConnell to call the Senate back into session,” wrote Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter this week to Democratic colleagues.

But none of it has moved the Republican Senate to act more swiftly after the shootings in Ohio and Texas over the weekend, which left 31 people dead and scores injured.

McConnell’s office is declining comment, referring back to a short statement he issued late Monday saying he was tasking three GOP committee chairmen “to engage in bipartisan discussions of potential solutions.”

In the meantime, Trump has been dialing up Senate Republicans about what is possible. He spoke at least three times with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., about his bipartisan background check bill with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., the GOP senator said.