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Obama Gun Control Likely To Be Broken Into Pieces By Senate

Obama Gun Control Likely To Be Broken Into Pieces By Senate

In the clearest sign that Democrats are worried about the viability of President Barack Obama’s comprehensive gun control package, leading lawmakers signaled on Monday that they will consider the president’s gun control agenda in pieces rather than as a whole.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said his committee will take up four gun-related bills in a hearing on Thursday. The bills reflect the core components of the gun violence package proposed last month by the White House. They include a universal background checks bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a school safety bill sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a new gun trafficking statute sponsored by Leahy, and an assault weapons ban sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

The choice to mark up Feinstein’s bill in committee was not easy, according to aides on the Hill. Congressional aides and outside groups carefully watching the legislation said they had anticipated the committee would put together a comprehensive package consisting of the three other legislative components. The committee would then pass that package to the Senate floor for consideration. Once there, lawmakers would consider adding the assault weapons ban as an amendment. Barring the unexpected, it would not muster the 60 votes needed for passage.

By marking up the assault weapons ban in committee, Leahy has chosen a different path. The bill likely has the support needed to pass in the committee. The only Democratic committee member who is a question mark is Leahy himself. But since the assault weapons ban likely doesn’t have 60 votes in the Senate at large, Democratic leadership will have to ensure that it doesn’t endanger the three other gun control components.

The consensus on how to do that was moving toward “a piecemeal approach,” two aides involved in legislative strategy said. “You do them separately,” explained one of those aides. “On the floor, maybe you put certain pieces together.”

Those pieces, the aide added, would be the federal trafficking statute, mental health legislation and universal background checks.

But even on the less-controversial matter, legislative prospects aren’t assured. Lawmakers and activists told The Huffington Post on Monday that negotiations over background check legislation, considered the most likely bill to pass, had stalled.


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