McConnell Under Pressure To Hold Vote On Background Checks

Senator Mitch McConnell. (Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

“We’re saying to Leader McConnell: Do the right thing. Gavel the Senate to an emergency session so we can take immediate action on the bipartisan, already passed, gun legislation.”

In the wake of last weekend’s back-to-back massacres in El Paso and Dayton, House Democrats are demanding that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell return to the senate from August recess to vote on House-passed gun control legislation.

HR8, a bill that would require new background checks for firearm transfers, and the Charleston loophole bill, which extends the period the FBI can use for background checks, have both passed the House and are currently sitting in the senate.

“Partisan theatrics and campaign-trail rhetoric will only take us farther away from the progress all Americans deserve,” McConnell said in a vague statement Monday, responding to calls to reconvene the senate. McConnell wrote that Republicans “would do their part,” without including specific actions.

The senate majority leader, who desires to be thought of as the “Grim Reaper” in his ability to kill Democratic legislation, is a major recipient of donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

As CNBC reported on Monday, “The National Rifle Association spent $1.6 million during the first half of the year lobbying members of the House and Senate against laws that would enact stricter background checks for people looking to buy guns, according to disclosure reports.”

While McConnell has a long history of blocking gun legislation after tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting, internal scandals at the NRA and a strengthening gun control movement could finally lead to change.

#MassacreMitch

McConnell, frequently ranked as the most unpopular senator in America (most recently by Morning Consult), is rarely the subject of public praise. But in the past few weeks the majority leader’s critics have been particularly fierce, donning him ‘Moscow Mitch’ for refusing to vote on election security bills despite Robert Mueller’s emphatic warning of Russian interference in the upcoming election.

Most recently, the hashtags #MassacreMitch and #WheresMitch have trended on Twitter, in reference to his refusal to call a vote on the House-passed bills.

“He is being called ‘Massacre Mitch’ right now for a reason,” said New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio. “Because he is literally refusing to allow pieces of legislation to the floor, even though they have bipartisan support.”

Other Controversies

McConnell’s recent controversies don’t end at his obstruction of congressional norms, however. On Monday, the Kentucky Republican’s campaign tweeted a photo of tombstones with the names of Amy Mcgrath, his main senate opponent, and Merick Garland, the Obama-appointed Supreme Court nominee he successfully obstructed. Critics found the tweet, published only hours after the mass shootings, deeply tasteless.

“Hours after the El Paso shooting, Mitch McConnell proudly tweeted this photo,” Amy Mcgrath wrote. “I find it so troubling that our politics have become so nasty and personal that the Senate Majority Leader thinks it’s appropriate to use imagery of the death of a political opponent (me) as messaging.”

On Tuesday, an image of a group of young men groping a cardboard cutout of Ocasio-Cortez surfaced on Twitter. The high schoolers were wearing “Team Mitch” shirts, prompting AOC to ask if the behavior was “standard culture” of #TeamMitch. McConnell’s reelection campaign responded to the photo by denying affiliation with the young men and chastising the media for not focusing on other topics.

In response to a Daily Beast article writing that the McConnell campaign’s dismissive response to the photo amounted to a “boys will be boys” excuse, Ocasio-Cortez took the opportunity to ask McConnell why he hadn’t yet allowed a senate vote on the Violence Against Women Act, which has also already passed the House:

“‘Boys will be boys.’ Is that also the reason why you’ve chosen to block the Violence Against Women act too, @senatemajldr? It prevents dating partners w/ records of abuse + stalking women (also an early warning sign from many mass shooters) from obtaining a gun,” tweeted Ocasio-Cortez.

“We’re saying to Leader McConnell: Do the right thing,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “Gavel the Senate to an emergency session so we can take immediate action on the bipartisan, already passed, gun legislation.”

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