Schumer: Keep gun votes out of budget debate

Schumer: Keep gun votes out of budget debate
© Greg Nash

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHouse Dems push to delay Kavanaugh vote for investigation Democrats should end their hypocrisy when it comes to Kavanaugh and the judiciary Celebrities back both Cuomo and Nixon as New Yorkers head to primary vote MORE (N.Y.) said on Wednesday that he doesn’t want to get bogged down in a debate over gun control, which could come back to bite Democrats running for reelection, when the Senate debates the budget this week.

Instead, the Democratic leader wants to limit the focus to President Trump’s tax plan and the Republican proposal to cut the growth of Medicare, issues that Democratic strategists think will play better with voters in swing states next year.

“I would like and I am urging my caucus to limit it to four issues,” Schumer told reporters.

“Four issues, we would try to limit our amendments. One, tax breaks aimed at the very wealthy; two, no tax increases for the middle class; three, no cuts to Medicare and Medicaid; and four, deficit neutral,” he said.

“Those are those four issues we’d like to focus on instead of doing a long vote-a-rama on every other issue,” he added.

The budget debate is the only time of the year when Democrats will have free hand to offer amendments on any issue they want to discuss, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSanders hits Feinstein over Kavanaugh allegations: Now it’s clear why she did nothing for months On The Money: Senate approves 4B spending bill | China imposes new tariffs on billion in US goods | Ross downplays new tariffs: 'Nobody's going to actually notice' McConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal MORE (R-Ky.) usually keeps tight control over which amendments come to the floor.

The Senate on Thursday afternoon is expected to begin a vote-a-rama, an unlimited series of votes that is allowed under chamber rules whenever lawmakers consider a budget.

It could be the only opportunity Democrats have to force votes on gun control until 2019.

But Schumer wants the budget debate to be an unmuddied discussion of Trump’s tax and Medicare plans.

He worries that the Democratic message on Trump’s tax plan, which they are painting as a give-away to the wealthy that does little for the middle-class, could get lost in heated debate over guns or other hot-button issues.

“We want sunlight. The more people see of this tax bill, the less they will like it. Today begins the process of what the [tax-reform] bill actually is to the American people,” Schumer told reporters. “They will not like it.”