Schumer, Pelosi urge Trump to support universal background check bill

Schumer, Pelosi urge Trump to support universal background check bill
© Greg Nash

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiAre Democrats turning Trump-like? Pelosi hits Trump, Netanyahu for 'weakness' amid tensions over Omar and Tlaib In Hong Kong, the need for peaceful persistence MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAppropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump ahead of New Hampshire speech: Lewandowski would be 'fantastic' senator MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Thursday that they had spoken with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE and urged him to support a universal background check bill.

“We spoke to the President separately this afternoon and told him the best way forward to address gun violence in our country is for Leader McConnell to let the Senate take up and pass the House-passed universal background checks legislation and for the President to sign it into law,” the Democratic leaders said in a joint statement. 

“The President gave us his assurances that he would review the bipartisan House-passed legislation and understood our interest in moving as quickly as possible to help save lives,” they added.

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Their talk with Trump comes as Democrats have homed in on trying to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAre Democrats turning Trump-like? House Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' Churches are arming and training congregants in response to mass shootings: report MORE (R-Ky.) to bring the Senate back into session to vote on the House-passed bill.

Pelosi also sent Trump a letter on Thursday urging him to call the Senate back into session.

“Today, as Speaker of the House, I am writing in good faith to request that you call the United States Senate back into session immediately under your powers in Article II Section 3 of the Constitution to consider House-passed bipartisan gun violence prevention legislation," Pelosi wrote.

The House passed the universal background check measure with the support of eight Republican lawmakers. The Senate’s version has 42 co-sponsors, none of whom are Republicans.

McConnell on Thursday rejected the calls for the Senate to return early from their five-week August recess, saying senators and their staffs would use the next few weeks to try to find areas of agreement that could muster together 60 votes. 

He added that he expected background checks and so-called red flag laws, which are meant to help identify potentially dangerous individuals to block them from purchasing a gun, to be “front and center” in the Senate’s debate.

“The discussion is focusing on two things: One is these red flag warnings. … There's also been some discussion about background checks," McConnell said. "There's a lot of support for that … so those are two items that for sure will be front and center as we see what we can come together on and pass."