A number of House Democrats are asking party leaders to split up a package of gun control measures with the hope that the bills will have a better shot at garnering Republican support individually.
The 21 members of Congress, led by Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), penned a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats Thursday asking that the eight-bill package known as “Protecting Our Kids” be broken up so that each bill within it can get a standalone vote on the House floor.
The package includes legislation that would raise the legal age to buy semi-automatic rifles to 21, outlaw high-capacity magazines, strengthen gun storage requirements and combat untraceable “ghost guns,” among other gun control measures.
The package — crafted by Democrats in response to two horrific mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas that killed more than 30 people combined — is likely to easily pass the Democrat-controlled House, but is expected to fail in the Senate, where it needs 10 Republican votes to break a filibuster and bring it to a vote.
“While we wish every Member of Congress in the House and Senate would join us in supporting all these bills, we know that is not our current reality, and given the composition of the U.S. Congress, we know we must have bipartisan support for bills we want to become law,” the legislators wrote.
They said debating and voting on each bill on its own would optimize each’s chance of garnering the maximum bipartisan support possible as some Republicans may be open to one or two of the bills but not all.
“As Members of the majority party, we must make a good faith effort to invite our colleagues across the aisle to join us in debating the merits of each bill and in voting for each bill,” the Congress members said.
If nothing else, they said, splitting up the package allows the American people to know how their representatives vote on each gun control measure instead of just their blanket stance.
Their letter — which was also addressed to Majority Leader Jim Clyburn, Majority Whip Steny Hoyer and Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler — was sent the same day President Biden delivered a speech urging Congress to pass gun reform measures.
Biden called on lawmakers to ban assault rifles, expand background checks and pass “red flag” laws in the wake of the racist shooting at a Buffalo supermarket in which 10 Black people were killed and the shooting 10 days later at a Uvalde, Texas elementary school where 19 students and two teachers died.
The House Judiciary Committee approved the “Protecting Our Kids” package Thursday evening with a 25-to-19 vote after a long and bitter debate.
Gun control has been a fiercely partisan issue that has stalled in Congress for years as more and more mass shootings claim the lives of Americans.
In his speech Thursday, Biden asked how many more will it take for Congress to act.
“How much more carnage are we willing to accept?” he asked. “How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say ‘enough’?”