House Dems lose fight to nix gun research ban in budget

Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has come up empty in her efforts to eliminate a budget rider that has halted nearly all government research into gun violence for 17 years.

The trillion-dollar spending bill unveiled early Wednesday morning keeps in place the controversial amendment, which Pelosi had told gun control groups was a priority in the budget talks. It is on page 936 of the 2,009-page bill.

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The top House Democrat added the gun research ban to her list of demands for GOP leaders during budget negotiations — the only gun-related provision that she made part of the budget talks following the recent massacres in Colorado Springs, Colo., and San Bernardino, Calif.

Still, Pelosi had carefully refrained from a threat to reject the overall bill if her demand isn’t met, after a series of failed attempts at strengthening gun control since 2012.

“We must insist that we cannot have a bill leave the station that still has that ban in it,” Pelosi said Thursday at a press briefing to mark the third anniversary of the shootings in Newtown, Conn.

When asked whether it would become a line in the sand, she told reporters, "What we're saying, this is a priority for us."

Only one senior Democrat, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), has said he will base his own vote on the gun research ban, and the chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), has said he’ll wait to see the final bill. Pelosi herself said in October that it would be nearly impossible to remove the rider while the party is in the minority.

GOP leaders were almost certain to reject Pelosi’s demand to eliminate the provision, known as the Dickey Amendment for former Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.). The namesake of the provision has since said he regrets the amendment and wished he could change the rider’s language to allow research.