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 HoyerHouse passes stopgap as spending talks stall This week: Round 2 of House impeachment inquiry hearings Lawmakers skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms 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 ThompsonOvernight Energy: Mark Ruffalo pushes Congress on 'forever chemicals' | Lawmakers spar over actor's testimony | House Dems unveil renewable energy tax plan | Funding for conservation program passes Senate hurdle House Democrats release renewable energy tax proposal Senate rejects Dem measure to overturn IRS rules on SALT deduction cap MORE (D-Calif.) and Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingRetiring lawmaker's 2018 opponent won't run for seat, citing 'difficult' pregnancies House panel advances flavored e-cigarette ban Hillicon Valley: Schumer questions Army over use of TikTok | Federal court rules against random searches of travelers' phones | Groups push for election security funds in stopgap bill | Facebook's new payment feature | Disney+ launch hit by glitches 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. FitzpatrickMark Ruffalo brings fight against 'forever chemicals' to Capitol Hill Hillicon Valley: Critics press feds to block Google, Fitbit deal | Twitter takes down Hamas, Hezbollah-linked accounts | TikTok looks to join online anti-terrorism effort | Apple pledges .5B to affordable housing Twitter takes down Hamas, Hezbollah-affiliated accounts after lawmaker pressure MORE (Pa.), Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastA new way to address veteran and military suicides VA might not be able to end veteran homelessness, but we shouldn't stop trying GOP lawmaker mistakenly wishes Navy happy birthday with photo of Russian ship MORE (Fla.), Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonShimkus says he's reconsidering retirement Shimkus says he's been asked to reconsider retirement Trump urges GOP to fight for him MORE (Mich.), Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithChina threatens 'strong countermeasures' if Congress passes Hong Kong legislation This week: Congress returns to chaotic Washington Nancy Pelosi is ready for this fight 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 CunninghamConservative group unveils million ad campaign against Trump impeachment Club for Growth extends advertising against House Dems over impeachment Progressive freshmen jump into leadership PAC fundraising 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.