(The Hill) — Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told colleagues Thursday morning that they should be prepared to vote on gun-control legislation when they return to Washington next month after the Memorial Day recess, promising a showdown with Republicans after mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, left 31 people dead.
Schumer said he’s not scheduling a vote this week on two House-passed bills to expand background checks because he wants to give Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and other colleagues more time to negotiate a deal with Republicans on background check or red-flag legislation.
But the Democratic leader is giving the talks little chance of succeeding.
“If these negotiations do not bear any fruit, the Senate will vote on gun safety legislation when we return. But our hope, even amidst our deep skepticism, is that during this week Democrats and Republicans at long last will come to agree on something meaningful that will reduce gun violence in a real way in America,” Schumer said on the floor.
Schumer’s statement clarified his remarks from Wednesday morning, when he said he did not plan to take legislation to the floor immediately because Republicans have made clear they oppose gun control.
“I believe that accountability votes are important but sadly, this isn’t a case of the American people not knowing where their senators stand. They know. They know because my Republican colleagues are perfectly clear on this issue, crystal clear. Republicans don’t pretend that they support sensible gun safety legislation,” he said Wednesday.
But progressive Democrats quickly rejected the idea of not forcing Republican senators to vote on expanded background checks or red-flag legislation just because the GOP has consistently rejected gun-control measures.
“I’m always in favor of putting people on the record. We don’t have a single Republican vote for any movement on gun safety and in the wake of what happened this week in Texas and last week in New York, I think Republicans ought to own up to their shameful, extremist position,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told The Hill Wednesday.
Other Democratic senators, however, say there’s “fatigue” about holding failed votes on proposals that are popular with the Democratic base.
Senate Democrats have painful memories about the last time the Senate held an extended debate on expanded background checks and other gun-violence measures in the spring of 2013.
Their proposals failed and the party suffered an intense voter backlash the following year when Republicans picked up nine seats and captured the majority in the 2014 midterm election.