After another mass shooting over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remained noncommittal Tuesday about bringing new gun safety legislation to a vote, instead putting the onus on the White House to first decide what it would support.
The Kentucky Republican was asked during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt specifically about a House-passed bill to expand background checks on firearm sales, which has stalled in Congress since the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn.
“Well, we’re in discussions about what to do on the gun issue in the wake of these horrendous shootings,” McConnell said. “I said several weeks ago if the president took a position on a bill so that we knew we’d actually be making a law, I’d be happy to put it on the floor.”
McConnell said he expected the administration to give him an answer on what President Trump is prepared to support next week.
After each mass shooting during his presidency, Trump has wavered over how to address the nation’s gun violence epidemic. He has suggested support in the past for closing loopholes in background check laws for gun purchases, but then would reverse his stance.
“If the president is in favor of a number of things he has discussed openly and publicly and I know we will pass it, and it’ll become law, I’ll put it on the floor,” McConnell told Hewitt.
In August, three mass shootings claimed the lives of 38 people, including Saturday’s shooting rampage in Odessa and Midland, Tex. Earlier in the month, back-to-back shootings at a Walmart in El Paso, and in a historic nightlife district in Dayton, Ohio, renewed the calls to pass stricter gun laws.
Trump, on Sunday, told reporters that the latest mass shooting “really hasn’t changed anything” regarding the discussion among lawmakers about gun policy.
McConnell’s reticence to take a stance on the issue earned him the nickname “Massacre Mitch” in the summer as Democrats grew increasingly frustrated with his refusal to assure Senate action.
“Time’s up, @SenateMajLdr,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted after Saturday’s Texas shooting. “Let’s vote on gun safety legislation NOW. Every day you wait, more tragedies happen. Do something, Senator McConnell. America is done waiting for you.”
The House, which passed its background checks bill in a 240-190 vote earlier in the year, is planning to take up additional gun control bills in the fall. The House Judiciary Committee had scheduled to debate the bills this week but postponed its meeting due to Hurricane Dorian.