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Pelosi defends Democrats' record on gun control

Pelosi defends Democrats' record on gun control
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is defending her party’s record on gun control after the House’s top Republican accused Democrats of purposefully ignoring the issue during their reign of Congress.

“Looking at the calendar, there was very little time to get something like that done,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday.

Under Obama’s presidency, Democrats held a majority in both the House and Senate from 2009 through 2010 — a time when Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerAre maskless House members scofflaws? Israel, Democrats and the problem of the Middle East Joe Crowley to register as lobbyist for recording artists MORE (R-Ohio) said Democrats could have passed tougher gun laws, but chose not to. "This clearly was not a priority for them" BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerAre maskless House members scofflaws? Israel, Democrats and the problem of the Middle East Joe Crowley to register as lobbyist for recording artists MORE said one day earlier.

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While Pelosi acknowledged that Democrats “could have passed a bill at any time” that the Democrats held a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, she underscored that time was limited.

“For several weeks in that two year period, there were 60 votes in the Senate,” she said, pointing out the multiple vacancies and special elections that kept the number of Democrats in flux.

When the Democrats controlled the House and Senate, the upper chamber only counted 60 Democratic votes during two months — July 2009 and September 2009.

Pelosi gave her remarks at a time when Democrats in both chambers are renewing their long-shot bids for tougher gun laws in the wake of last week’s shooting in Oregon.

Earlier Thursday, Pelosi led a chorus of Democrats calling for a special panel investigating gun violence, a rebuke of the GOP-led efforts to investigate Benghazi and Planned Parenthood.

Pelosi may have some bargaining power going into budget talks with GOP leaders and President Obama, which could be used to eliminate a two-decade provision that prevents federal funding from supporting research. Republicans kept the ban in place in this year’s budget proposal.

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When asked if she would fight the ban to spur new research on guns, Pelosi said she had low expectations.

“I don’t know if it’s possible. We are not in the majority. I don’t know if it’s possible to get the Dickey [amendment] out of the bill,” she said, referring to the 1996 provision that is named after former Rep. Jay Dickey.

Obama again asked Republicans this year to the lift the ban, which prevents agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health from studying gun violence, which opponents believe is intended to advance the gun control agenda.

“It’s appalling, it’s such a statement of ignorance. [You’re saying], 'I don’t know, I don’t care and I don’t want to know.’ You have to know where you are to see how you can, and if you are, making progress,” Pelosi said.