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House to vote on background check bills next week

The House is set to vote on legislation next week to enhance background checks for gun purchases as Democrats seek to move quickly on a top priority since taking the majority.

Democrats expect to consider measures to require universal background checks and address the so-called Charleston loophole that allowed the shooter in the 2015 massacre at a historic black church to buy a gun, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerTop Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate Trump orders aides to halt talks on COVID-19 relief This week: Coronavirus complicates Senate's Supreme Court fight MORE (D-Md.) confirmed.

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Democratic leaders are moving swiftly to pass the bills following the House Judiciary Committee's approval of both measures on Feb. 13.

The Judiciary Committee votes came a day before the first anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which killed 17 people.

Both bills are expected to pass on the House floor largely along party lines with limited support from Republicans.

The first measure, sponsored by Reps. Mike ThompsonCharles (Mike) Michael ThompsonHouse Democrats unveil green tax package The Hill's Coronavirus Report: BIO's Michelle McMurry-Heath says 400 projects started in 16 weeks in biotech firms to fight virus, pandemic unemployment total tops 43 million Gun control group rolls out House endorsements MORE (D-Calif.) and Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingDemocrats, GOP fighting over largest House battlefield in a decade Treasury withheld nearly M from FDNY 9/11 health program Trump holds private funeral service for brother Robert Trump at White House  MORE (R-N.Y.), would expand the federal background check system to cover sales at gun shows or online.

Current law only requires licensed firearms dealers to run background checks before granting a gun sale. The new legislation would mandate people wishing to transfer a gun to visit a licensed firearms dealer to conduct a background check.

The bill does grant exemptions for gifts between family members and temporary transfers for use at a shooting range or for hunting.

Thompson and King's bill is titled the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, but its bipartisan support is not widespread. Only five Republicans have co-sponsored the measure: Reps. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickLawmakers urge IRS to get stimulus payments to domestic violence survivors Hopes for DC, Puerto Rico statehood rise Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum MORE (Pa.), Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastWarren, Porter to headline progressive fundraiser supporting seven swing state candidates Sen. Rand Paul says he and his wife were 'attacked by an angry mob' after Trump speech Florida Republican apologizes after Facebook posts about sex, rape uncovered MORE (Fla.), Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonWarren, Porter to headline progressive fundraiser supporting seven swing state candidates Preventing next pandemic requires new bill's global solutions Hillicon Valley: Judge's ruling creates fresh hurdle for TikTok | House passes bills to secure energy sector against cyberattacks | Biden campaign urges Facebook to remove Trump posts spreading 'falsehoods' MORE (Mich.), Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithWoman tased, arrested for trespassing for not wearing mask at Ohio football game China sanctioning Rubio, Cruz in retaliatory move over Hong Kong China sanctions Cruz, Rubio, others over Xinjiang legislation MORE (N.J.) and King.

The second bill, authored by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), would lengthen the review period for a gun sale. King is also a co-sponsor, as well as Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test Chamber-backed Democrats embrace endorsements in final stretch GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-S.C.).

Current law allows a gun sale to proceed if a background check isn't complete within three days. Clyburn's bill would extend the review period to 10 days and allow a buyer to request a review if the background check hasn't been done by then. The gun sale can go forward if another 10 days go by without a response from the background check system.

The bill is meant to address the flaws in communication between local law enforcement and a federal background check system examiner that allowed the Charleston shooter to buy a gun.

The examiner had not seen an incident report stating that the shooter, Dylann Roof, admitted to possessing drugs. That report would have otherwise prevented Roof from buying a gun.

House Republicans did pass some measures in response to mass violence when they held the majority, but none went as far as the gun control proposals Democrats are pursuing. They included enacting penalties against agencies that fail to report to the background check system and providing security grants to schools.