Democrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up'

Democrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up'
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Democrats held the floor for roughly five hours on Tuesday to raise awareness about the chamber's inaction on gun legislation after a recent spate of mass shootings. 
 
 
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' Mattis responds to Trump criticism: 'I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals' Democrats vow to push for repeal of other Trump rules after loss on power plant rollback MORE (D-N.Y.) called out McConnell as he wrapped up the marathon of floor speeches, saying it was time to "put up or shut up."
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"Politicians offering their thoughts and prayers just doesn't cut it anymore. It's put up or shut up. Leader McConnell, Senate Republicans, what will you do?" he asked. 
 
"What we're asking for is very simple. ...It should be an obvious thing to do, a simple up-or-down vote on legislation, an up-or down vote on H.R. 8 let me say it again. Leader McConnell, put H.R. 8 up for a vote on the floor," Schumer added. 
 
Democrats are clamoring for McConnell to bring up a universal background check bill passed by the House earlier this year with the support of eight Republican lawmakers.
 
But the bill is considered a non-starter in the Senate, where McConnell has warned that a piece of legislation will need Trump's support in order to get a vote. The House bill has picked up no GOP cosponsors in the Senate and sparked a veto threat from the White House. 
 
McConnell on Tuesday describe lawmakers as in a "holding pattern" on potential gun reforms until they get a signal from Trump about what he will sign.
 
"What I would like to know is, you know, what he thinks would make some progress and he would sign. And until we get that kind of guidance, we're in a holding pattern so to speak," he said. 
 
Democrats, however, are bristling over the demand from McConnell that Trump say he would support a bill before it gets a vote in the Senate, arguing it undermines the separation of powers. 
 
"Let me just say that's not actually how the Senate is supposed to operate. We're supposed to originate the legislation. We're supposed to be the world's greatest deliberative body," said Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever CNN catches heat for asking candidates about Ellen, Bush friendship at debate MORE (D-Hawaii). 
 
 
Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate GOP braces for impeachment trial 'roller coaster' Trump judicial nominee delayed amid GOP pushback Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE (D-Ill.) similarly knocked Republicans, arguing that they were barely moving legislation through the chamber and were instead focused on confirming various nominees put forward by Trump. 
 
"Week after week after week, we vote on nomination after nomination after nomination. We hardly ever debate. We hardly ever vote on legislation to address the needs that the American people say are the primary concerns in their minds," he added.   
 
Democrats believe they have public momentum and polling on their side, after several recent polls have shown that most Americans support expanding background checks for gun sales. 
 

"This is something all of us should be caring about, especially from Arizona, where my dear friend Gabby Giffords was shot," Gillibrand said during a heated speech that was audible from outside the Senate chamber.
 
But that support for new gun reforms hasn't carried over to the Republican-controlled Senate. 

The Senate, then controlled by Democrats, previously rejected legislation in 2013 to expand background checks to all commercial sales. GOP lawmakers are wary of getting ahead of Trump on potential gun reforms, after the president signaled last year that he would support additional reforms before reversing course.

The White House is currently negotiating with senators as they try to craft gun control legislation. Murphy and Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Senate Dems lose forced vote against EPA power plant rule Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE (D-W.Va.) both said on Tuesday that they were still waiting to find out if Trump would back an expansion of background checks for gun sales.

White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland said on Tuesday that representatives from the administration would be meeting with lawmakers this week at Trump's request to try to find a bill that could clear Congress.  

Ueland and Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrMulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe Mulvaney ties withheld Ukraine aid to political probe sought by Trump Matthew Shepard's parents blast Barr's LGBTQ record in anniversary of hate crime law MORE met on Tuesday with Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHillicon Valley: GOP lawmakers offer election security measure | FTC Dem worries government is 'captured' by Big Tech | Lawmakers condemn Apple over Hong Kong censorship Lawmakers condemn Apple, Activision Blizzard over censorship of Hong Kong protesters The Hill's Morning Report — Trump's impeachment jeopardy deepens MORE (R-Texas), who has warned Trump against making a deal with Democrats.

"The president has asked us to engage with the Hill. ... We continue today and throughout this week to talk with members on both sides of the aisle, both sides of the Capitol as we work through all these public policy challenges to see whether or not there's a path forward on a legislative package in relation to mass gun violence," he said.  

He added, "We got a lot of great input as you know. ... It's a collaborative two-way conversation."
 
Updated: 11 p.m.