White House on assault weapons ban: ‘We’re going to find the votes’

March 19, 2013

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said in an interview Tuesday that Senate Democrats' decision to introduce a gun control bill that doesn't include an assault weapons ban does not constitute a setback for President Obama's gun control efforts.

In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, McDonough said the bill can still be brought up as an amendment and that there should still be a concerted effort to pass it.

"We're going to work on this. We're going to find the votes," McDonough said, according to a transcript. "And it deserves a vote and let's see if we can get it done."

The prospects for the assault weapons ban have never been good, even in the Senate, where Democrats have the majority. In announcing that it would likely not be part of the Senate's package earlier today, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) spoke as if the effort was over and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the ban was very far from the level of support needed for passage.

“Right now her amendment, using the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes. I — that’s not 60,” Reid said.

As The Fix has noted before, the White House has at times de-emphasized the assault weapons ban, apparently hoping that its gun control efforts would be viewed as a success even without the ban.

Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · March 19, 2013