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But that bill, approved by the House, is sitting in the Senate — and that’s where the the vote counting gets tricky for the Biden White House.
Legislation on guns and policing cannot be considered in Congress via the budget reconciliation process, the route that Democrats took to pass virus relief with just their party’s 50 votes in the Senate. That’s the same way they appear on track to tackle infrastructure. That means Democrats would need 10 Republicans to join them to pass the firearms or police legislation under current Senate procedures.
“I strongly, strongly urge my Republicans friends in the Congress who refuse to bring up the House-passed bill to bring it up now,” Biden said Friday, referring to the gun control measure. “Who in God’s name needs a weapon that can hold 100 rounds, or 40 rounds or 20 rounds. It’s just wrong and I’m not going to give up until it’s done.
Key lawmakers, including Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., have been trying to engineer a way around the stalemate by engaging colleagues in bipartisan talks. The House bill to extend background checks is similar to one that came closest to passing in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shootings, but senators are now tangled in differences over provisions, including firearms transfers between family members. No breakthrough appears in sight.
“In the end, Congress has to do its job,” Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., said, recalling the president’s message to lawmakers during a two-hour private session with members of the Congressional Black Caucus this week.
The logjam in the Senate on such high-priority issues has increased pressure on Biden to embrace a growing movement within the Democratic Party to eliminate the 60-vote threshold needed to pass most legislation. But here he also faces opposition within his own party — Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona both oppose eliminating the filibuster. Manchin, too, opposes the House-passed gun control bills, making their passage in the Senate all the more difficult.
The White House is in frequent contact with gun control advocacy groups. Most say they are pleased with the first round of executive actions Biden took and cautiously optimistic about his promise to work to pass legislation on Capitol Hill.