Posts tagged with "Bipartisan deal"

Senators reach bipartisan deal on gun safety

June 14, 2022

It’s a small, but significant, start: Senate negotiators announced on Sunday, June 12, that they had struck a bipartisan deal on a narrow set of gun safety measures with sufficient support to move through the evenly divided chamber—a compelling step toward ending a yearslong Congressional impasse on the issue, reports The New York Times.

The agreement—put forth by 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats and endorsed by President Joe Biden and top Democrats—includes enhanced background checks to give authorities time to check the juvenile and mental health records of any prospective gun buyer under the age of 21; and a provision that would, for the first time, extend to dating partners a prohibition on domestic abusers having guns.

It also would provide funding for states to enact so-called red-flag laws that allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed to be dangerous, as well as money for mental health resources and to bolster safety and mental health services at schools.

The outline has yet to be finalized and still faces what the Times characterizes as “a perilous path in Congress,” given the deep partisan divide on gun measures and the political stakes of the issue. It falls far short of the sprawling reforms that Biden, gun control activists, and a majority of Democrats have long championed, such as a ban on assault weapons and universal background checks.

And it is nowhere near as sweeping as a package of gun measures passed almost along party lines in the House last week, which would bar the sale of semiautomatic weapons to people under the age of 21, ban the sale of large-capacity magazines and enact a federal red-flag law, among other steps.

But it amounts to notable progress to begin bridging the considerable gulf between the two political parties on how to address gun violence, which has resulted in a string of failed legislative efforts on Capitol Hill, where Republican opposition has thwarted action for years.

Democrats hailed the plan, which also would toughen federal laws to stop gun trafficking and ensure that all commercial sellers are doing background checks, as an opportunity to pass the most significant gun safety legislation in decades.

“Today, we are announcing a common-sense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe and reduce the threat of violence across our country,” the 20 senators, led by Christopher Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, and John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said in a joint statement, adding, “Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities.”

The backing of 10 Republicans suggested that the plan could scale an obstacle that no other proposal currently under discussion has been able to: drawing the 60 votes necessary to break through a GOP filibuster and survive to see an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader who has played a central role in stymieing gun safety measures in recent years, praised what he called “headway” in the discussions even as he was noncommittal about whether he would ultimately support the package.

“The principles they announced today show the value of dialogue and cooperation,” Mr. McConnell said. “I continue to hope their discussions yield a bipartisan product that makes significant headway on key issues like mental health and school safety, respects the Second Amendment, earns broad support in the Senate and makes a difference for our country.”

Research contact: @nytimes

‘Not going to happen’: Progressives slam McConnell effort to sabotage reconciliation bill

June 30, 2021

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is actively working to undermine the Democratic majority’s emerging infrastructure strategy by demanding the separation of the White House-backed bipartisan deal from a broader reconciliation package—a non-starter for progressives who say they will not support the former without simultaneous passage of the latter, Raw Story reports.

“It’s not going to happen,” Representative Ro Khanna (D-California) told NBC News on June 28, referring to McConnell’s request. “There is no way a bipartisan deal passes the House without a vote the same day on a Senate-passed reconciliation that has bold climate provisions.”

In a statement on Monday, McConnell called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Caliornia) to “walk back their threats that they will refuse to send the president a bipartisan infrastructure bill unless they also separately pass” a sweeping reconciliation package; which the newly re-elected Kentucky Republican referred to as “unrelated tax hikes, wasteful spending, and Green New Deal socialism.”

According to Raw Story, along with other members of his caucus, McConnell—despite being well aware of the Democrats’ two-track approach—voiced outrage last week after President Joe Biden said he would refuse to sign a bipartisan infrastructure bill that is not accompanied by separate legislation that addresses other Democratic priorities, from investments in green energy to child care to paid family leave. The Democratic package would pass through reconciliation, an arcane budget process that is exempt from the 60-vote legislative filibuster that McConnell has frequently wielded to stymie the majority party’s agenda.

Biden soon softened his position amid Republican backlash, saying in a statement Saturday that he intends to “pursue the passage” of the $579 billion bipartisan measure “with vigor” and will sign it if it reaches his desk.

But Biden’s shift was not enough for McConnell, who said the president’s vow will amount to a “hollow gesture” unless Schumer and Pelosi take the same position.

On Thursday, Pelosi said the House won’t hold a vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate also passes the broader reconciliation package—a stance that won applause from progressive lawmakers, who are now urging the Democratic leadership to hold firm in the face of what they view as McConnell’s bad-faith sabotage effort.

Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, pointed to McConnell’s remark last month that “100%” of his focus is on “stopping this new administration.”

“The last person who should have a say on our agenda is Senate MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell,” Jayapal tweeted. “We’re going to go big and bold on our reconciliation package because that’s what people voted us in to do.”

Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee—which is headed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont)—are expected to hold a call this week to discuss the size and scope of the nascent reconciliation bill.

Sanders is reportedly pushing for a roughly $6 trillion package that includes Medicare expansion, significant spending on climate action, and other investments. The youth-led Sunrise Movement is demanding that Democrats to go even further by embracing a $10 trillion in climate and infrastructure spending over the next decade.

But, in order to pass, any reconciliation bill must win the vote of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WestVirginia), who indicated over the weekend that he would not be willing to support a package larger than $2 trillion, according to Raw Story.

In a tweet on Monday, Sanders addressed those suggesting his reconciliation offer is too pricey.

“For those who say the budget framework I proposed costs ‘too much,’ what would you cut?” the Vermont senator asked. “Combating climate change? Childcare? Universal Pre-K? Paid family and medical leave? Dental, hearing, and vision [for Medicare recipients]? Housing? Long-term home healthcare? Child Tax Credit? Waiting…”

Research contact: @RawStoryRaw S