21 Democrats ask leaders to split up gun package

A group of 21 House Democrats led by Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) is asking leadership to split up a package of eight gun bills and hold individual votes on each measure, in hopes of maximizing Republican support for each as they head to the Senate.

In a Thursday letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the 21 Democrats suggested that some of the measures may get support from House Republicans if considered individually, making them better-positioned for consideration in the Senate.

“While we wish every Member of Congress in the House and Senate would join us in supporting all these bills, we know that is not our current reality, and given the composition of the U.S. Congress, we know we must have bipartisan support for bills we want to become law,” the lawmakers wrote.

Leaders combined eight gun reform measures into a single package called the “Protect Our Kids Act” — a direct response to a pair of mass shootings last month, including one at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where a lone gunman with a semi-automatic rifle killed 19 children and two teachers. 

The Democrats’ package includes measures to raise the purchasing age for semi-automatic rifles to 21 years old, outlaw magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, strengthen storage requirements, codify a ban on bump stocks, prohibit straw purchases of firearms and combat untraceable “ghost guns.”

“We fully expect each of these bills will pass in the House, but as we focus on actually delivering for a hurting America, passing each bill individually will ensure that every commonsense measure we are putting forth arrives in the U.S. Senate with the maximum bipartisan support it may garner, recorded through individual votes – giving us the maximum chance of passing gun violence prevention legislation in the Senate and into law,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter, first reported by Punchbowl News, arrived in the middle of a much-watched gathering of Nadler’s Judiciary Committee, which had returned to Washington for a special markup on the same eight-bill omnibus package the 21 Democrats want to split apart. 

It also coincided with another letter sent Thursday from Pelosi to House Democrats laying out the party’s voting strategy on gun reform following last week’s massacre in Uvalde. In it, Pelosi informs her members that the package of bills being marked up by the Judiciary panel will receive a vote next week. 

Democrats had previously scheduled another gun-related vote next week on legislation to nationalize so-called red flag laws, which are designed to keep firearms from the hands of potentially violent people. 

To that list of upcoming votes, Pelosi also added another: The House will vote “in the weeks ahead” on a proposal designed to better inform the public when an active shooter is in the area. 

The Speaker also indicated that House Democrats “will soon hold a hearing” on legislation to ban hundreds of models of “assault” rifles, like the one used in Uvalde. That’s a less aggressive position than Pelosi had outlined just a day before in San Francisco, where she vowed that Democrats would hold not only a hearing, but also vote to mark up the assault weapons proposal, sending it to the floor.

Tags Abigail Spanberger Gun control gun package Gun reform James Clyburn Jerry Nadler Mass shootings Nancy Pelosi Steny Hoyer
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