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D.C. Legislation Would Remove More Gun Limits
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said yesterday that he had received a call explaining the bill from one of its most prominent supporters, Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.). Reid said he had not yet looked at the legislation.
"We have a lot of things to do in a short period of time," he said.
Opponents note that the bill has not attracted much attention in the Senate, unlike in the House, where the measure has 117 co-sponsors, including 57 Democrats.
"We think we've got a better chance of defeating it in the Senate, or keeping it from coming to a vote," Helmke said.
Some critics say House leaders, who have supported the District's quest for more autonomy, are allowing a vote on the gun bill only because they assume it will go nowhere in the Senate.
"I think the Democrats are trying to give cover to members in pro-gun districts, allowing them to take a meaningless vote," said Brian McNicoll, a spokesman for Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.).
The House leadership agreed to allow a vote on the D.C. gun bill after Republicans appeared to be gaining enough support from conservative Democrats to bring a similar measure to the floor themselves. Such a move would be deeply embarrassing to the House leadership and could fracture the party's House contingent.