Chuck Schumer and his Senate Democrat colleagues have a gun control problem on their hands. President Joe Biden has already promised his liberal supporters that he was going to get some gun control legislation passed, but even the bill viewed as having the best chance of reaching his desk has been declared “dead on arrival” in the upper chamber. H.R. 8 is the bill that was supposed to expand background checks to a “universal level” and was viewed as being at least somewhat less onerous to Second Amendment supporters. But now, it appears that Schumer and Pelosi won’t even be able to reuse their bogus reconciliation scheme to hammer H.R. 8 through because it won’t even reach fifty votes on the Senate floor. So now it’s back to the drawing board. Schumer is still claiming that he will bring something to the floor when the Senate returns from recess, but what that will turn out to be remains a mystery. (Free Beacon)
Senate Democrats punted on taking up House gun-control bills on Friday, acknowledging that the restrictions put forward by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) were “dead on arrival,” according to senior Senate aides.
Facing pressure from gun-control activists and Democratic elected officials alike, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) told colleagues on Thursday he would bring background check legislation to the floor shortly after the Senate returns for business on April 12. But with Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Jon Tester (D., Mont.), and Susan Collins (R., Maine) publicly stating their opposition to House-passed background check bill H.R. 8, Democrats must find a viable replacement. The political environment makes that a nearly impossible task, according to multiple Senate aides.
The Democrats’ best hopes of getting to fifty votes rested with Manchin or possibly Tester and Collins. But all three of them have already given it a thumbs down. West Virginia, Montana and Maine all have solid histories of supporting gun ownership and voters there wouldn’t be pleased by this bill no matter which letter you have after your name.
The main issue holding up the bill even among moderates who might have supported it is the requirement for licensed gun dealers to perform repetitive background checks every time a firearm is sold or potentially even loaned to someone. This effort to nibble away at the Second Amendment by making firearm purchases as inconvenient as possible just wasn’t going to fly. The Democrats are currently looking at what is likely a ceiling of 47 votes in favor of H.R. 8, and Chuck Schumer has been around the swamp long enough to know that he’s not going to bring a doomed bill to the floor, only to suffer an awkward defeat.
The other possibility being mentioned is a revival of a 2013 background check bill that was co-written by Pat Toomey and drew some (limited) Republican support. That bill would only add background checks for private gun sales. It attracted four other GOP votes last time and Manchin cosponsored it. But will that be enough to satisfy the progressive wing of Joe Biden’s party? Only a few weeks ago they were talking about the return of the “assault weapons” ban and confiscating extended magazines. Now they can’t even ram through enhanced background check legislation.
Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) already sounds like he’s throwing in the towel. He announced that he will be working with Chuck Schumer to build the strongest background check bill “that can pass.”
I met with @SenSchumer today and we agreed to spend the next several weeks working with both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to try to craft the strongest background checks bill that can pass.
Lives are at stake. Failure is not an option.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) March 25, 2021
We can’t know for sure, but that certainly doesn’t sound like the attitude of someone who thinks H.R. 8 can be “fixed” in some fashion that will get it over the finish line. At this point, it looks like the Democrats will either need to start over from scratch or convince Pat Toomey to bring back his old bill and enlist all of the Democrats to support that. They probably still won’t be able to get to sixty votes, but at least they’ll have something to work with.