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House passes sweeping gun reform agenda as Senate talks continue


With some of their friends and loved ones still buried at home, survivors and families of victims of the recent mass shootings challenged lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week to reach an agreement on reform negotiations. firearms or risk continuing a 30-year trend of inaction. following the Sandy Hook tragedies in Parkland.

As Senate negotiators continue talks, the House on Wednesday night passed a sweeping, largely partisan package of measures — called the “Protecting Our Children Act” — that would raise the age limit for purchase of 18-21 semi-automatic rifles, would ban high-capacity magazines, create requirements for safe firearm storage, and tighten regulations on bump stocks and “ghost guns.”

A handful of members broke ranks in the 223-204 vote, with five Republicans – Representatives Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Chris Jacobs of New York and Fred Upton of Michigan – supporting the package, and two Democrats – Representatives Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon – voting no.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledges the passage of HR 7910, Protecting Our Kids Act, on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, June 8, 2021.

house.gov

Notably, every Republican who crossed party lines will not return to Congress the next term, and Schrader recently lost his Democratic primary. A Republican did not vote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave the vote Wednesday with a smile as her caucus cheered.

But House GOP leaders pushed back on the vote, with Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., noting that “there was no conversation about banning planes” after the 9/11 attacks — and calling the majority to hold bipartisan talks like their Senate counterparts. Although the legislation is doomed to fail in the upper house, it aims to pressure Republicans who have been reluctant to pass — or outright blocked — reform at the federal level, despite growing calls for change.

PHOTO: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledges the passage of HR 7910, Protecting Our Kids Act, on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, June 8, 2021.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledges the passage of HR 7910, Protecting Our Kids Act, on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, June 8, 2021.

house.gov

The real opportunity for policy change lies in the Senate, where a small group of bipartisan negotiators are closing in on an agreement in principle on gun reform.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., leaving a meeting with the group of about 11 lawmakers on Wednesday, said they were discussing “a series of concrete proposals” that he “hopes the next day will all be whittled down to a framework that includes a wide range of commitments, in terms of amounts and targets.”

But questions remain about what the final deal will include — and whether it will go as far as many Americans demand.

“Somewhere out there a mother hears our testimony and thinks, ‘I can’t even imagine their pain’, not knowing that our reality will ever be hers unless we act now,” said said Kimberly Rubio, mother. of Lexi Rubio, a fourth grader among 19 children and two teachers killed in Uvalde, Texas. “So today we stand up for Lexi. And like her voice, we demand action. We demand a ban on assault rifles and high capacity magazines.”

PHOTO: Felix Rubio and Kimberly Rubio, parents of Lexi Rubio 10, victim of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, testify remotely during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence, June 8, 2022 in Washington, D.C.

Felix Rubio and Kimberly Rubio, parents of Uvalde, Texas mass shooting victim Lexi Rubio 10, appear on a screen as they testify remotely at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill, June 8, 2022 in Washington, DC

Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

“You expect us to just keep forgiving and forgetting over and over again. And what do you do?” asked Garnell Whitfield Jr., a son of Ruth Whitfield, the oldest victim of the Buffalo shooting that left 10 black people dead, senators asked Tuesday. “My mother’s life mattered. Your actions here will tell us if, and how much, it mattered to you.”

Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, who said he learned responsible gun ownership growing up in Uvalde, also issued an impassioned plea from the White House after lobbying lawmakers on both sides of the gone this week, saying Americans are more united on the issue. weapons, but it is Congress that is divided.

“Enough invalidation on the other side. Let’s come to the common table that represents the American people. word. “Because I promise you, America – you and I, who – we’re not as divided as we’re told.”

PHOTO: Miguel Cerrillo, the father of Miah Cerrillo, a student who survived the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, wipes away a tear during a House Oversight Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 8, 2022.

Miguel Cerrillo, the father of Miah Cerrillo, a fourth-grader at Robb Elementary School who survived the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, wipes away a tear during a House Oversight Committee hearing on Capitol Hill Hill in Washington, DC on June 8, 2022.

Pool via ABC News

The bipartisan group of senators, led by Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, aims to reach a compromise this week on a package that could garner enough support to pass Congress – but they are considering much narrower in scope than the victims and President Joe Biden have publicly called for.

Instead of universal background checks, supported by 89% of Americans according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, negotiators are seeking to expand background checks to review records of minors. Regarding red flag laws, supported by 86% of Americans according to the same poll, laws that temporarily remove guns from the hands of individuals considered a danger to themselves or others, the group plans to incite states to implement their own, as opposed to enacting red flag laws at the federal level.

State funding for mental health resources — a measure Republicans have called for, along with increased funding for school safety — is about 80% complete, according to Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Who is part of the talks.

PHOTO: People attend a protest against gun violence near Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2022.

People attend a protest against gun violence near Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2022.

Susan Walsh/AP

Senate Democrats support expanded versions of those measures as well as raising the age to buy assault weapons from 18 to 21 — but they don’t have enough Republican support to become law. Democrats need 10 Senate Republicans to join them on any legislation to meet the 60-vote chamber threshold, required by the filibuster rule, and allow a bill to advance for the final pass.

So far, it’s unclear whether there’s enough support for even a more modest deal.

Although Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has privately expressed his willingness to support lowering the age to purchase assault-type weapons, sources told ABC’s Congressional Correspondent News, Rachel Scott, the measure is a failure for most Republicans.

Asked by a CNN reporter why Americans would need an AR-15, Senator John Thune, RS.D., said people use them in his state “to shoot prairie dogs and, you know, other types vermin”.

PHOTO: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the chamber the morning after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 19 children, on Capitol Hill in Washington , DC, May 25, 2022.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the chamber the morning after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire on a Texas elementary school, killing at least 19 children, at the Capitol in Washington, DC, May 25, 2022.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Less than 24 hours later, a pediatrician in Uvalde, who treated victims of the Robb Elementary School mass shooting, described to House lawmakers the damage the shooter’s AR-15 had on tiny bodies.

“Two children, whose bodies had been so pulverized by the bullets fired at them over and over again, whose flesh had been so torn open, that the only clue as to their identities was the blood-splattered cartoon clothes that were on them. still hanging on,” said pediatrician Dr. Roy Guerrero.

And after?

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has given negotiators about until the end of the week to reach a framework agreement, after which more time would be needed to then develop legislative language and obtain budget analyses. required.

“I encourage my fellow Democrats to keep talking, to see if Republicans will work with us to come up with something that will bring about meaningful change in the lives of the American people and end gun violence,” he said. in the Senate. Tuesday. “Making real progress is very important. Senator Murphy asked for space for the talks to continue, and I gave him the space.”

But not all negotiators show up on board with this quick schedule.

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks to activists protesting gun violence and demanding action from lawmakers in Washington, June 8, 2022.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks to activists protesting gun violence and demanding action from lawmakers in Washington, June 8, 2022.

Nicolas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The talks’ chief Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, told reporters on Wednesday that his “ambitious goal” would be to reach an agreement “within the next two weeks, by the end of this working period” on June 27.

As negotiators appear to be closing in on a framework agreement by Friday, a GOP aide familiar with the matter said paper was still being traded back and forth. Members may announce a tentative deal and then take a few more weeks to finalize the language, as seen with the bipartisan infrastructure law.

Senate Democrats need 10 Republicans to join them in theory, but some believe any deal will require even broader Republican support to pass – the thought suggests more GOP members will be willing to support the measure if it has the support of their largest conference.

If negotiators fail to reach an agreement, Schumer has pledged that every senator will be registered by holding a vote on doomed legislation on comprehensive gun reform, before the midterm elections. of autumn.

ABC News’ Trish Turner, Benjamin Siegel, Allie Pecorin and Lalee Ibssa contributed to this report.

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