Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are facing enormous pressure to take action in the wake of the horrific shooting, but members of both sides acknowledge the uphill battle to find common ground given the deeply polarized political climate around gun legislation and widespread Republican opposition to the tougher crackdown. gun control.
It is significant, though, that McConnell has decided to think about it and give the green light to a bipartisan effort over a possible legislative response to the shooting. But it remains to be seen what the talks will be like, if anything, given that countless mass shootings in recent years have failed to break a partisan stalemate on the issue of gun policy in Congress.
McConnell did not say specifically what the features of this legislation should be, instead indicating that he wanted Cornyn to be the one negotiating.
“I met Senator Cornyn this morning. As you know, he came home yesterday to see family members and begin to find out the truth about this horrific massacre and I encouraged him to speak with Senator Murphy, Senator Cinema and others interested in an effort to get a conclusion directly related to the problem. I hope we can come up with a solution. Bipartisan,” McConnell told CNN.
Legislation to respond to mass shootings and counter-gun violence has long been one of the most divisive and intractable policy issues facing lawmakers.
Cornyn said earlier Thursday that he would meet today with Murphy, one of the leading Democrats on the issue of gun policy, to see what can be worked on. He and Murphy have met sporadically over the past year on the matter and will try to restart some of their conversations.
He said he didn’t know if they could get there with background checks or other billing, but said “we hope this provides a new, greater sense of urgency.”
Cornyn also said he did not want to see the shooting used as a means of violating gun rights.
“There is a whole list of things we can consider, but I especially think mental health, access to mental health treatment is high on that list,” he said, adding, “I think we need to be open to anything, wherever it is.” The evidence leads us. I would say that this is no excuse for violating the rights of the Second Amendment to the law that citizens are obligated to do that would do nothing to fix tragedies like this.”
Conversations ‘Just Started’
Later on Thursday, Cornyn said he had “touched the gloves” with Murphy and that their conversations had “just begun”.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated that Democrats are willing to give some time and space to efforts to reach some sort of bipartisan compromise on gun legislation, though he noted that the odds are long. He also made it clear that these efforts would not be given an unlimited amount of time to complete.
“We have to try everything,” Schumer said earlier on Thursday. “We must not leave a single stone unturned.”
He added, however, “This is not a call to negotiate indefinitely. Make no mistake about it, if these negotiations do not bear fruit in a short period of time, the Senate will vote on the Gun Safety Act.”
Senate Democrats took steps Tuesday night to put two House-passed background-checking bills on the legislative calendar so they can be voted on. However, it is unclear when the Senate might vote on the measures and they will not be expected to overcome the GOP’s disruption.
Describing the effort, Murphy said, “We’re going to have a series of meetings today to set the table for next week, and then we’ll work hard to try and find a bipartisan product.”
A cautionary note sounded similar to Schumer’s, adding, “I won’t negotiate forever.”
“I’ve been through this before,” he said. “I know Republicans sometimes care more about talking than doing, so if we can’t make some progress by the end of next week, I’ll tell Senator Schumer it’s time to take the votes. And Senator Schumer has committed that we’re going to get votes somehow in the Senate on issues of Like background checks.”
A number of Democrats have expressed optimism about the prospects, despite the very long prospects of any kind of agreement.
Senator. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, called the bipartisan meeting on gun reform “extremely encouraging.”
He said concerned members were looking at “a little bit of everything” — such as expanding background checks and red flag laws — to see what might garner bipartisan support.
When asked if he thought Democrats could include 10 Republicans, he said he “always” thought they would. “I’ve stopped thinking about politics and can you get elected in these votes. This is mainly about protecting children. If they can’t live up to that level, they need to dig deeper and find out why we’re here.”
Most legislation requires at least 10 Republican votes to overcome the blockage in the Senate given the current 50-50 partisan divide.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who has been involved in gun reform talks with colleagues on both sides of the aisle for years, said Thursday when asked about red flag laws and other actions related to firearms “for the first time,” he and Cornyn and other Republican colleagues said they were “talking serious.” After the shooting in Texas.
“That’s a major reason for my encouragement,” he said. “Now I hope we can get to that critical mass that will get us to 60 votes. And I hope for the first time in a long time.”