Sen. Grassley urges GOP colleagues to meet with Newtown families

“Earlier today I met with families from Newtown, Conn., to discuss the legislation we are currently debating,” Grassley said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “It’s obviously very emotional and it isn’t an easy meeting to have, but it’s a very necessary meeting to have.

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“I would hope that my Republican colleagues meet with them. … When they hold up pictures of their loved ones, it makes it very personal,” Grassley said while holding photos of the victims.

Some family members of the Newtown victims flew to Washington, D.C., on Air Force One with President Obama in order to lobby senators to act on gun violence legislation this week.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to file a cloture motion to proceed to debate on S.649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act, on Tuesday night so that the Senate can vote to begin debate by Thursday.

GOP senators led by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have threatened to filibuster any gun-control reform legislation. They say the measures under discussion would limit Second Amendment rights.

The Senate gun reform bill would expand background checks on gun purchases, create new penalties on straw purchases and include new funding for school security. The bill doesn’t include an assault weapons ban or limits on magazine clip capacity — although Reid has promised to allow a vote on those provisions as amendments.

Republicans have expressed concern that extending background checks could create a federal registry of gun owners and make it harder for family members to transfer firearms.

Democrats, in turn, have pointed to a national poll that says 90 percent of people in the United States support stricter background checks in order to buy a gun.

But Grassley said voters might have a different view if they read the proposal that is circulating in the Senate.

“I do not think that 90 percent of Americans would support this universal background check if they had the chance to read the proposals,” Grassley said. “The whole process makes me wonder if the whole effort to pass something on the subject is really serious.”

Grassley has said he would offer his own gun violence bill as an alternative to the Democratic proposal.