Treasury says Mnuchin wasn't calling for Congress to examine gun issues

Treasury says Mnuchin wasn't calling for Congress to examine gun issues
© Keren Carrion

The Treasury Department said Thursday that Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTens of thousands of travelers from China arrived in US as administration debated restrictions: report Pelosi, McConnell clash over next coronavirus bill Trump eyes additional funds for small businesses impacted by pandemic MORE was not breaking with President TrumpDonald John TrumpCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Outgoing inspector general says Trump fired him for carrying out his 'legal obligations' Trump hits Illinois governor after criticism: 'I hear him complaining all the time' MORE on guns during an exchange with Rep. John LewisJohn LewisGeorgia makes it easier to get mail-in ballots after delaying primary Kennedy said DSCC prevented him from helping Democrats flip GOP seats Pelosi stands firm amid calls to close Capitol MORE (D-Ga.) at a hearing earlier in the day.

“Secretary Mnuchin was directly addressing Congressman Lewis’ question about availability of funds in the budget to address the issue of gun violence," said Treasury spokesman Tony Sayegh. "He also reflected the feelings shared by all Americans that yesterday’s school shooting was a profound tragedy.”

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At the hearing, after Lewis asked Mnuchin about the budget and gun violence, Mnuchin said, "Personally I think the gun violence — It's a tragedy, what we've seen yesterday, and I urge Congress to look at these issues."

The comments garnered attention because Trump has touted gun owners' rights in the past and did not mention gun control legislation in his remarks Thursday about the shooting that occurred at a South Florida high school the day before.

In the exchange with Lewis, Mnuchin said he has "vast responsibilities as Treasury secretary but this is out of my lane of responsibility." 

Lewis said that the government "must do better" to address gun violence.
 
"We have to save our children, our citizens, our teachers," the congressman said.
 
Mnuchin told Lewis, "I appreciate the severity and the tragedy and I will speak to the president and the other Cabinet members."
 
Seventeen people on Wednesday were killed in the Florida shooting.
 
Authorities later identified the suspected shooter as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.
 
This story was updated at 2:25 p.m. to reflect the Treasury Department's statement.