harry reid

Spotlight Turns to Reid in Gun Control Debate

by Joanna Anderson and John Gramlich, RollCall.com  |  published on March 16, 2013

All eyes now shift to Harry Reid. With the Senate Judiciary Committee completing its work on a series of gun measures Thursday, the majority leader must determine his strategy for how the full chamber will move forward in response to last year’s Connecticut school shooting.

Reid told reporters Thursday that he has conferred with Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt. “He and I are going to sit down, find out now what has been reported out of the committee and what we need to put together as a base bill to start legislating on the Senate floor,” the Nevada Democrat said.

Leahy also pledged to work with Reid “to see how he intends to proceed.”

A renewal of the assault weapons ban, in particular, could put Reid in a bind. He has not publicly endorsed the highly controversial measure and may be reluctant to bring it to a floor vote, given that about 10 Democrats from gun-friendly states face re-election next year and are uneasy about — or, in some cases, outright opposed — to the measure.

At the same time, Senate Democrats are mindful of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he made an emotional plea for action — as shooting victims and their families looked on from the House galleries — by repeating his contention that gun violence victims “deserve a vote.” Obama pointedly used that phrase again in a statement Thursday thanking the Judiciary Committee for its work.

“The Senate has now advanced legislation addressing three of the most important elements of my proposal to help reduce the epidemic of gun violence in this country,” the president said, referring to the assault weapons bill (S 150) and measures that crack down on gun trafficking (S 54) and expand background checks for gun sales (S 374).

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