Well, it’s bad news for the White House, anyway, which can’t really afford to lose momentum on either, but especially so on gun control. Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner reports that while a mark-up on gun-control legislation will take place this week as scheduled, all other work on the Obama administration’s other priorities will get pushed out to the spring while Congress wrestles with fast-approaching budget deadlines:
Senate action on two of President Barack Obama’s top priorities this year — gun violence and immigration — will likely be delayed until April at the earliest, as budget issues yet again consume all of Washington’s political oxygen and capital.
Though Senate Judiciary ChairmanPatrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., on Monday announced a Thursday markup for a series of gun bills, Congress must first address a March 27 deadline to avoid a government shutdown, the implementation of $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts this year and a budget resolution. That means any gun violence measure is unlikely to hit the floor for another six weeks and that any immigration overhaul would be slated following the gun debate.
The White House seems resigned to the realities of pressing deadlines as well:
With the White House focused almost exclusively on pressuring Republicans to replace the sequester with a plan that includes targeted tax hikes, Senate aides suggested Monday that the president likely wouldn’t re-engage fully on gun issues until after budget matters had been resolved. Those aides added that any gun legislation won’t get the kind of significant consideration needed for passage until after the Easter recess.
In a precursor of speeches to come, Obama’s address to a bipartisan group of governors Monday was almost entirely centered on the sequester — there was no mention of gun control and only a passing mention of immigration.
The alternate headline here is Reality Temporarily Intrudes on Fantasy. The sequester hits on Friday, and the continuing resolution expires four weeks from today. Of the two, the latter is the much bigger deal, although the Nightmare on Sequester Street hysteria has ruled the media. That could be a bit of political misdirection on the part of both parties, though, because the resolution of the CR will require much more give from all sides than the sequester, which Republicans feel with some justification they can ride out. That may not be true for a government shutdown, which unlike the sequester will have an immediate and broad-based impact.
In contrast, there are no deadlines for either gun control or immigration, and only the latter is truly a pressing problem at the federal level. The big “solution” for the former is the reimposition of a federal law that didn’t solve any problems in its first ten-year existence, and which would only apply to a small fraction of the declining number of homicide victims in the US anyway. Border security has been a gaping problem for decades, and it’s been eight years now since the 9/11 Commission urged Congress to address it and the broken visa program.
A few weeks won’t make much difference in that debate, but the longer it takes for Congress to push gun-control legislation, the more resistance they will get on it. The opposition has both facts and passion on their side, and that means the only chance for success that gun control had was a rush to pass legislation.