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McConnell shelves gun bills for banking reform

McConnell shelves gun bills for banking reform
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats slide in battle for Senate McConnell and wife confronted by customers at restaurant Pelosi, Schumer: Trump 'desperate' to put focus on immigration, not health care MORE (R-Ky.) is moving to banking reform legislation — not gun control or other responses to the high school shooting in Florida — next week in the Senate.

McConnell has filed a motion to have a procedural vote Tuesday on legislation sponsored by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoLawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks GOP loads up lame-duck agenda as House control teeters Republicans shift course after outside counsel falters MORE (R-Idaho). After that, McConnell hopes to move to legislation addressing sex trafficking, according to GOP sources.

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Legislation addressing the Florida high school shooting, the subject of contentious conversations between President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE and GOP lawmakers at a White House meeting televised live on cable news Wednesday, will wait.

A Senate GOP aide said a limited bill to strengthen background checks for firearms purchases could come to the floor at any moment as soon as Democrats agree to let it move forward.

McConnell on Tuesday blamed Democrats for preventing the proposal, sponsored by Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynO'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke debate showdown Live coverage: Cruz faces O'Rourke in Texas debate showdown MORE (R-Texas) and Democratic Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyGOP lawmaker demands ‘immediate recall’ of acting US ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP MORE (Conn.), from coming to the floor.

“We tried to get it cleared yesterday, but the Democratic leader objected,” McConnell said.

Democrats vigorously dispute that and say that conservatives led by Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenators pledge action on Saudi journalist’s disappearance Bernie Sanders: US should pull out of war in Yemen if Saudis killed journalist Senators warn Trump that Saudi relationship is on the line MORE (R-Utah) objected to moving the Cornyn-Murphy bill.

Either way, that legislation is not seen as a huge step on gun violence by most lawmakers. It would give local and federal authorities more incentive to report relevant information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Trump on Wednesday suggested that additions should be made to the bill as he spoke with Cornyn.

Yet even that legislation has its opponents in the Senate.

Conservative Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Noisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday said he had serious due process concerns over the potential that veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress symptoms could be blocked as a group from buying firearms.

“You can’t take gun rights away in bulk. If you say everyone that has PTSD that’s a veteran, all their data will be dumped into a database and it will show up on a background check, that’s a problem,” he said.

“I’m for taking away gun rights from violent people but you have to do it one at a time, you can’t do it in bulk,” he said.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE (D-N.Y.) says he supports the Fix NICS legislation but warned earlier this week that it falls far short of what is needed to stop mass shootings such a the one that left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

“If that is all Congress does, we won’t have done our job to keep America’s families safe,” he said.

He called the bill “fine” but “certainly not enough.” 

Republicans are divided over what to do on gun legislation.

Some Republicans such as Lee, Paul and Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.) say the Fix NICS bill is flawed.

Other Republicans, such as Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump boosts McSally, bashes Sinema in Arizona Watch live: Trump speaks at Arizona rally Mnuchin to attend anti-terror meeting in Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi disappearance MORE (Ariz.), want to go further by also raising the age requirement for buying rifles from age 18 to 21.

Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Pa.) thinks his bill co-sponsored with Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Blankenship endorses ex-W.Va. GOP Senate rival, calls him 'lying' drug lobbyist MORE (D-W.Va.) to extend mandatory background checks to include sales at gun shows and over the internet, should get priority. 

Many Republican senators, however, say they oppose rising the mandatory age for buying rifles or requiring background checks for gun shows and online sales.