House Democrats – including three members of the far-left “Squad” – are calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to reconvene the House to address white supremacy and gun violence, despite Pelosi’s calls for the pressure to stay on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Democrat Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Veronica Escobar (D-TX) are pushing a letter, calling on both chambers – not just McConnell’s Senate – to cut their recess short to address white supremacy and gun violence. The letter follows the two deadly attacks that ravaged communities in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend, leaving more than 30 killed and several dozen injured.
The letter, obtained by VICE News, reads in part:
We are writing to request that urgent attention be given to legislation to address the threats posed by white supremacist terrorism. First, we call on the Senate to reconvene to consider legislation already passed by the House to strengthen the background check system and enhance gun safety. Second, we believe that the relevant House and Senate Committees of jurisdiction should meet during the August recess, and that all other Members and Senators should be prepared to return to Washington as soon as a substantive, meaningful package to combat white supremacist terrorism is ready for consideration. We the undersigned stand ready to return to the Capitol before September 9 to take up this important work.
The letter states that there is legislation pending in both chambers that would “strengthen our government’s ability to confront domestic terrorism while making it harder for terrorists to purchase guns.” It cites the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, No HATE Act, the Disarm Hate Act, and the Domestic Terrorism Data Act:
Pending legislation includes the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which would beef up the Justice and Homeland Security Department units responsible for addressing this threat, while improving collection of data. The No HATE Act, the Disarm Hate Act, and the Domestic Terrorism Data Act also seek to address some of the threats posed by violent extremism in the United States. Congress should further consider appropriating supplemental funds to both Departments so that they can meet the threat without reducing other essential counter-terrorism efforts. And we should consider passing a domestic terrorism statute, and new measures to combat the spread of hateful ideologies online.
“We should not wait until the district work period ends on September 9 to take action that will protect the American people,” the letter adds.
The letter’s proponents hope to garner as many signatures as possible before sending it to Pelosi and McConnell. According to VICE News, it has earned the support of 48 lawmakers, including three members of the infamous “Squad”: Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).
Nonetheless, the letter is likely to fall on deaf ears, with Pelosi urging her colleagues to focus on putting pressure on McConnell instead.
“The focus now has to be on Mitch McConnell,” Pelosi told a group of activists Monday, dismissing calls for immediate House action. “Bring the Senate back.”
It is the same sentiment she expressed to House Democrats during a private call Monday, in which she urged them to focus on McConnell and the Senate.
According to Politico:
Pelosi told Democrats on the call that they should keep their focus on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his blanket refusal to consider two gun control bills that passed the House earlier this year.
“The president and Mitch McConnell have to feel the public sentiment on this. We have a golden opportunity to save lives,” Pelosi said on the call, according to an aide.
“The grim reaper said he is not going to bring them up,” she added, using McConnell’s self-given nickname. “This is where we have to go.”
Senate Democrats have been calling on McConnell to cut the chamber’s August recess short to vote on the House-passed Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, although the measure – which would require a background check for every gun sale, even among private individuals with few exceptions – would not have stopped the deadly shootings in El Paso or Dayton. Even CNN admitted such:
There is no indication that the shooting in Dayton, Ohio, would have been prevented by proposed universal background checks or legislation to bolster the federal background check system. The alleged El Paso, Texas, shooter purchased his firearm legally and there is no evidence that he had a criminal history that a background check would’ve caught.
Despite that, the far-left “Squad’s” call could be viewed as another slap in the face to Pelosi, who has made it abundantly clear that Democrats should focus on the Senate and Senate alone.
As VICE News reported:
Pelosi strongly suggested on the call that the House wouldn’t come back and that lawmakers should instead focus on blaming the Senate for inaction. In a letter she sent to colleagues later that day, she left open the possibility that the relevant House committees — Judiciary and Homeland Security — would return to work on the issues. A Pelosi spokesman referred VICE News back to that letter when asked about Malinowski’s concerns.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), however, seems to be toeing the desired party line:
Boys will be held accountable for their actions, starting with Mitch McConnell.#WheresMitch
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 6, 2019
Despite Pelosi’s argument that the House has already passed gun-related measures, Malinowski, who is leading the letter’s effort, said he is not prepared to wait on the McConnell-led Senate to address white supremacy.
“The Senate can only act on things that we’ve done,” he said, according to VICE News. “But the Senate can’t act on domestic terrorism legislation that we haven’t passed yet — and I’m not prepared to wait for Mitch McConnell to lead on that.”