Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) shot down Democratic calls for an immediate vote on gun control legislation on Wednesday.
The Democratic leader said he wanted to give Senate members an opportunity to reach a bipartisan deal that had a chance of passing the 60-vote threshold of the filibuster. He claimed that Republicans have not backed gun control measures because they have been captive to the NRA.
Schumer also laid the groundwork for gun control legislation to be a major theme for the Democratic Party as midterm elections approach.
“My Republican colleagues can work with us now. I think it’s a slim prospect. Very slim, all too slim. We’ve been burnt so many times before. But this is so important,” Schumer said, according to Politico. “We must pursue action and even ask Republicans to join us again.”
Schumer shot down calls from members of his caucus to put up gun control legislation for an “accountability” vote.
“There are some who want this body to quickly vote on sensible gun safety legislation, legislation supported by the vast majority of Americans,” Schumer said, according to The Hill. “They want to see this body vote quickly so the American people can know which side each senator is on. … I’m sympathetic to that, and I believe that accountability votes are important.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also spoke on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday. McConnell refrained from engaging in political fights or pushing policy, instead expressing condolences for the Uvalde, Texas, community, which lost at least 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school on Tuesday to a mass shooter.
“The entire nation’s hearts are broken for the victims and their families. Words simply fail,” McConnell said. “We pray fervently that in the midst of this nightmare of grief, our Heavenly Father will make manifest to these families his promise in Psalm 34 — that ‘the Lord is near to the brokenhearted.’”
A pair of bills passed the House last year largely along party lines that would toughen background checks and expand across all firearms sales and transfers in the country. Senate Democrats have placed one of the bills on the upper chamber’s legislative calendar, though it is unclear when a vote on it might take place.