“It’s a betrayal of Republican voters. It doesn’t earn those senators lasting applause,” Rep. Dan Bishop (RN.C.) said of the Senate deal.
“I don’t think it smells good at all,” Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said. “I feel like the bill is going to open the door to unnecessary gun regulations.”
This is the latest rift between not only the House and Senate GOP leadership, but also among rank and file members over the past year and a half. It covered everything from a bipartisan infrastructure deal and raising the debt ceiling to how to handle the fallout from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
“My pause, my concern, is due process on these red flag grants,” Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) said, adding that while he and McConnell “agree on a lot of things … but we don’t always agree.” vote the same.
This cleavage was played out in real time on Wednesday. Shortly after McCarthy and Scalise privately announced their opposition, the Senate Minority Leader publicly touted the bill as a victory for Republicans.
“This time it’s different. This time, the Democrats walked up to us and agreed to offer common-sense solutions without diminishing the rights of law-abiding citizens. The result is a product I’m proud to support,” said McConnell.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a McConnell ally who helped spearhead the deal, also gave a slide show at the Senate GOP luncheon on Wednesday aimed at rebutting conservative criticism. Additionally, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) offered an alternative deal to the conference, according to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), that would give “more money to police in schools” and increase penalties. for those who use firearms. commit a crime.
Cornyn’s first slide touted ‘conservative wins’, including defunding law enforcement, that it would ‘only affect violent criminals and those found to be mentally ill’ and that improved background checks for minors would end after 10 years, a source close to his presentation told POLITICO.
Cornyn also used the slideshow to list provisions that were included in the bill at the request of the NRA, including money for toughening schools, funding mental health and granting exemptions. to close the so-called boyfriend loophole, which restricts the right to firearms for those who have abused their romantic partners. The highlighted exemptions include that the limitations would not apply to past relationships unless they were recent.
A separate slide details the due process requirements states would have to follow if they use the bill’s funding to create red flag laws, a major concern for Republicans.
But those assurances did little to convince House Republicans.
“A lot of people here don’t seem to understand the meaning of conservative,” Bishop said of McConnell and Cornyn touting the deal as having wins for Republicans.
Members of the Second Amendment caucus, including Bishop, railed against the Senate deal and GOP senators who support it at a press conference Wednesday. The group of House Republicans have vowed they will try to pull funding from the legislation if and when they control the chamber.
“We will repeal this. … We’re going to fund that. It’s unconstitutional,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said.
House Republicans debated the Senate gun deal during their Wednesday morning meeting. Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) characterized Republicans as having “mixed feelings” following the conference.
“I was hearing people on both sides of the issue,” Bacon said. “I heard a guy who will support him. A guy who will oppose it.
The House GOP leadership sent a notice to its members Wednesday afternoon urging them to vote against the Senate deal. The advisory, which highlights the opposition the bill has garnered from groups outside the GOP, said the Senate bill “takes the wrong approach in trying to tackle violent crime.” and was an “effort to slowly curtail the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Opposition from the House GOP leadership comes after the Freedom Caucus announced it would oppose the Senate deal, raising particular concerns about a provision that would spur states to create so-called red flag, which allow for the confiscation of firearms if someone is deemed a danger to themselves or others.
“Red Flag Laws allow for the preemptive seizure of firearms from Americans without due process by allowing anyone to report a firearm owner to law enforcement and request forfeiture of the firearms of this individual, even before the gun owner has a chance to defend himself,” the ultra-conservative group said in a statement.
The House Freedom Caucus added that Senate Republicans should “use every procedural tool at their disposal to ensure that members of Congress have sufficient time to study and analyze any legislation that emerges from Senate negotiations.”
Representative Chip Roy (R-Texas), a member of the group, asked why Senate Republicans would negotiate with Democrats on the bill, given that Democrats have “stated goals of taking our guns away from us.”
But the Senate GOP gun package picked up at least one GOP supporter shortly before the meeting. Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas), who represents the community of Uvalde, Texas, where a shooter killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in late May, announced he would support the legislation in a Twitter thread Wednesday morning.
Gonzales was not among five House Republicans who voted for the House gun deal earlier this year. This bill would have raised the age of purchase of a semi-automatic weapon, required background checks for ghost weapons and banned the sale of high-capacity magazines, among other provisions.
“As a member of Congress, it is my duty to pass laws that never violate the Constitution while protecting the lives of innocent people. In the next few days, I look forward to voting YES” on the Senate bill, he tweeted.
But the universe of potential GOP “yes” votes on the Senate gun deal likely remains small, closely mirroring the number of Republicans who voted for the provisions of the previous House bill.
When asked if the size of the Senate GOP’s support for the gun deal influenced the universe of GOP yes votes in the House, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), L one of the GOP’s yes votes, ignored: “Not really.” He estimated that “about 15 or 20 of us” would vote on the Senate gun legislation.
Upton also pointed to GOP votes on last year’s bipartisan infrastructure deal as another potential indicator of House Republican “yes” votes on the Senate gun deal. At the time, 13 members of the Republican House supported the deal. However, the political dynamic of backing road and bridge development is very different from that of a gun reform package in the House GOP, which has long seen even tighter measures as a prelude to further restrictions. on American gun rights.
Bacon, one of the House Republicans who supported the infrastructure deal last year, on Wednesday hailed McConnell as a “smart man” and Cornyn as a “great person”, but said he was undecided on the Senate’s agreement.
“The high-profile stuff sounds good, but I want to read the bill, because I think the sticking point has always been due process with the red flag,” Bacon said. “I think it looks promising on the high-level side.”