Congressional Democrats return from recess vowing to prioritize gun legislation
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Congressional Democrats return from recess vowing to prioritize gun legislation


JUDY WOODRUFF: With the August recess now
over, members of Congress scrambled today to prioritize their agenda items. As Capitol Hill correspondent Lisa Desjardins
reports, there’s a lot to choose from. LISA DESJARDINS: Their first full day back
from summer break, House Democrats wanted to talk guns and gun violence, holding a forum
on the issue. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We will fight on every
front, in the courts, and in the Congress, and in the court of public opinion, to make
sure this issue is too hot to handle for the GOP to block. We’re not taking no for an answer. LISA DESJARDINS: Speaker Pelosi is particularly
touting a bill the House already passed to expand background checks to include most private
sales. That idea has gained new attention after last
month’s mass shooting in Odessa, Texas. Officials say seven people were killed by
a man who failed a background check, but got a gun later through a private sale, where
no background check was required. That violence, along with attacks in El Paso
and Dayton, Ohio, led to 40 deaths last month. And all of that is leading Democrats to pressure
the Senate to vote on more background checks. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer: SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): A debate on gun safety
should be our first order of business, and the place to start a debate is a vote on the
House-passed bipartisan background checks bill. LISA DESJARDINS: But in the Senate, one vote
matters most, that of Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said, for a gun bill to
get a vote, the president must back it first. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We do, in fact, await
word from the White House about what the president is willing to sign. LISA DESJARDINS: This, despite polls showing,
nationwide, overwhelming support for increased background checks. An NPR/”PBS NewsHour”/Marist survey out today
shows that 83 percent of Americans support laws requiring background checks for gun show
purchases and private sales. This puts enormous pressure on vulnerable
Republican senators up for reelection next year, like Susan Collins of Maine. SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): Over the August recess,
I had extensive conversations with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and with the White
House, and I’m optimistic that we could reach agreement on a package that would pass the
Senate. LISA DESJARDINS: As senators struggle to vote
on anything, House Democrats are voting on more and stepped-up ideas, today moving bills
through committee to limit high-capacity magazines and support more red flag laws, allowing law
enforcement to take weapons from anyone thought to be dangerous. Some House Democrats also want to return to
an all-out ban on assault-style weapons. But with Congress divided, the deciding voice
looks like President Trump’s. He met with Republican leaders about gun violence
today. But he has indicated both an openness and
opposition to gun legislation in recent days. Therein lies the challenge, says Democratic
Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): I’m sure he will take
a position. The question is, will he hold it? If he does, he will be able to lead us forward
to making progress on guns. If he doesn’t, I think we will all be once
again disappointed at the lack of progress. LISA DESJARDINS: Democrats are hoping for
more gun votes in the House in coming weeks.

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