Guns, budget headline Congress's busy September schedule
WASHINGTON - September is shaping up to be a busy month in Congress, and it starts with the renewed debate on guns. Top Democrats this week are urging the Senate to hold a vote on a background checks bill they passed earlier this year.
“Two people in Washington can make sure the background checks bill passes: (President) Donald Trump and (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said during a Monday news conference.
The Senate isn’t expected to vote on that House bill, which calls for stricter background check provisions that Republican lawmakers are not expected to support. But what GOP senators will consider will need approval from President Trump.
“There is a lot of public support for a number of different, very popular legislation that could be passed such as red-flag laws,” according to Todd Belt, professor and Director of Political Management at George Washington University.” I think those are very popular on both the Republican and Democratic side.”
That’s forcing moderate Senate Republicans who support background checks to find more support within their own party. Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is trying to gain bipartisan support for his legislation that would expand background checks to all commercial gun sales, including at gun shows and online sales. He previously introduced the bill in 2013 with West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin. The two are working together on this version of the bill as well. The 2019 version is not expect to change much, Toomey said during a Tuesday news conference, but it could be amended if more support is needed.
“This is the moment to get something done to make us all a little bit safer in our communities across the country,” Toomey said of his legislation.
Toomey said he is expected to talk with Trump later this week. The Senator’s staff has been in communication with the White House daily regarding gun legislation, he added. The current bill has not been introduced.
“There will be tweaks if we could get to a consensus,” Toomey said.
Meanwhile, there are just three weeks to go before Congress needs to approve next year’s budget. Both the House and Senate still need to reconcile their spending packages by October 1, or risk yet another government shutdown.
“Certainly, President Trump made it easy for the Democrats to blame it on him last time when he said he would take the blame,” Belt said. “I don’t see him doing it this time.”
What else to watch for
Some top House Democrats are still pushing for impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Republicans are hoping to pass that new revised NAFTA trade deal, known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, by the end of the year.