Senate Dems to Biden, Harris: Ixnay on sault-ay uns-gay an-bay

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Is Joe Biden’s mouth writing checks that his Senate caucus can’t cash? Is it a day ending in Y?

Actually, it would be an unusual day indeed where Biden’s mouth isn’t trying to write a check. But I digress.


The Hill reports that Biden and Kamala Harris could be undermining a bipartisan effort at a legislative response to the Uvalde shooting. Biden and Harris are demanding an assault-guns ban that Senate Democrats are no longer pushing — and that could damage their leverage with a handful of Republicans on issues where some consensus could build:

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are calling for bans on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines but they’re out of step with members of their own party who don’t want to vote on those hot-button issues and instead want to focus on more modest reforms.

Activists would like to see Biden take executive action to curb gun violence but the president said over the weekend that he can’t do much by himself, kicking the issue to congressional Democrats as he has other elements of his agenda.

Democratic negotiators in the Senate, however, aren’t talking about a ban on assault-style rifles, like the AR-15 that a gunman used to kill 21 people in Uvalde, Texas, or a ban on high-capacity magazines, like the 30-round clips the shooter took to Robb Elementary School.

They’re focused on what has a better chance of getting Republican support, like a proposal to expand background checks or encourage states to set up red flag laws take guns away from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others.


Once again, we can sit back and marvel at just how bad Biden and Democratic leadership are at their jobs. Isn’t this a response that Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden should have coordinated? If Schumer and Murphy aren’t even going to take up an assault weapons ban (AWB), then why is Biden out raising expectations on Senate Democrats to commit political suicide in either direction? If they take it up, the AWB will fail on a cloture vote and might even come short of 50 votes anyway. Manchin doesn’t have much use for it, and Kyrsten Sinema clearly wants to go another direction. But with Biden and Harris pushing an AWB as the ne plus ultra response to Uvalde, they’re setting up Schumer and Murphy as fall guys with the activist Left.

But that’s fine, I’m sure. Midterm voting begins in four months, but I’m sure everything will be better by then. Progressive activists have short memories, right? Right?

Punchbowl reports that the Senate negotiations between varying bipartisan lineups on other measures is proceeding slowly but showing promise:

These talks have largely focused on school safety, “red flag” laws and improvements to the nation’s mental health apparatuses. The red-flag proposal is essentially a program which would provide federal grant money to incentivize states to set up their own systems to temporarily remove guns form those who are a threat to themselves or others.

Sources involved in the negotiations say interest in reaching a compromise remains genuine on both sides, although there are serious obstacles to do so.

→ Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is also holding parallel discussions with Murphy, a replay of what they did last summer during unsuccessful talks on expanding background checks on gun sales. Murphy is the central figure in all of these talks.

Cornyn, Murphy, Sinema and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) held a Zoom discussion on Tuesday as well. Tillis has expressed openness to red flag laws. Aides to these four senators are going to craft some proposals for them to review in the coming days.


The red-flag laws will be very tricky to write in such ways that don’t intrude on constitutional rights, and not just Second Amendment rights either. It’s worth exploring, but equally responsive would be to find ways to deal with mental illness that allow for some mechanisms to commit dangerous individuals with demonstrated behaviors that show their risk before they kill a bunch of people. In Uvalde and Parkland especially, law enforcement had engaged the perps before but never escalated to a point that would have prevented firearm purchases of any kind. Background check expansion is a non-sequitur in this instance because the perp passed a background check, thanks to a lack of a record for his prior behavior.

At least members in the Senate are working within the realm of the possible, though. Biden and Harris are instead venting their spleen and undermining their allies’ leverage by emoting about an AWB and even more ludicrously about 9mm ammunition. Biden is his own worst political enemy.

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