White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday finessed a vexing question about the congressional logjam over a hot-button gun control issue: federal background checks for firearms purchases.
In the wake of President Joe Biden’s announcement of several executive actions aimed at curtailing gun violence, Psaki was asked if the White House believes Congress will actually pass two bills expanding checks.
“The president is going to lead the analysis of what is viable and doable to all of you,” she said, the Daily Caller reported.
“He is not vote counting himself,” she said. “He is also clear about challenges in moving forward with legislation that the Senate. He will continue to advocate for that just as he did today, this morning in the Rose Garden surrounded by some of the bravest and most courageous advocates for gun control, gun safety legislation in the country. He also is not going to wait.”
When pressed on how that communication between Biden and a divided Congress would go, Psaki replied: “I certainly would anticipate the president will arrange conversations with members of Congress.”
“I can assure you where this is appropriate, for members of the administration in the White House and otherwise to communicate with members of Congress that will certainly continue to be at the top of our list.”
Two recent bills on background checks passed the House on March 12, but are now stalled in the Senate, CBS News reported.
The bills are the first significant gun control measures passed by the House since Biden took office — background checks being one of his campaign promises, the news outlet noted.
The first bill was approved 227 to 203, with eight Republicans joining almost all Democrats. It would establish background check requirements for gun sales between private parties, prohibiting transfers unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check. The legislation would not apply to certain transfers, such as a gift between spouses, CBS News reported.
The legislation had three GOP cosponsors: Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, Christopher Smith of New Jersey and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.
The second bill would close the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which allows some gun sales to go through before background checks are completed. Under that loophole, Dylann Roof was able to purchase a firearm in 2015 which he then used to murder nine people at a historically Black church in South Carolina.
The bill would increase the amount of time firearm sellers must wait to receive a completed background check before transferring a firearm to an unlicensed buyer from three days to 10 days. It passed by a vote of 219 to 210, with two Republicans voting for it and two Democrats voting against it.
The challenge in the Senate is more difficult. Most legislation requires 60 votes to advance in the Senate, so Democrats would need support from 10 Republicans to overcome a legislative filibuster, CBS News noted.
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