The mass murder of 19 children and two of their teachers in Texas last week prompted Senator Mitch McConnell to say minority leaders he hoped senators could find “a bipartisan solution” to the problem. But if that sort of answer sounds familiar — and not particularly inspiring — that’s because he’s said it before, only to later close the door.
McConnell told CNN he “encouraged” Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) to engage with Democrats Sens. Chris Murphy (CT) and Sen. Krysten Sinema (AZ) on possible areas of the new gun law deal.
“I am confident that we can find a bipartisan solution,” he said.
While it is noteworthy that McConnell has signaled his willingness to talk about changes to the laws governing gun ownership in the United States, in McConnell’s case it is only a small step beyond immediately dismissing anti-gun action.
Time and time again, McConnell’s “hope” for a bipartisan solution has simply prolonged the inevitable: inaction.
After a man with a gun murdered 49 people at Pulse Night Club in Orlando in June 2016, McConnell told reporters, “Nobody wants terrorists to have guns.”
“We’re open to serious suggestions from experts on what we could do to help,” he said.
But when a bill that would have given the Justice Department the power to “deny known or suspected terrorists the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses” to a vote went to a vote, it lost all but one vote by the party. McConnell was one of the 53 Republican senators who voted no.
In August 2019, after mass shootings within 24 hours at an El Paso Walmart and a Dayton nightclub, then-President Donald Trump expressed his support for “really sane, sensible, and important background checks.”
“Today the President called on Congress to work bipartisanly and bicamerally to address the recent mass killings that have rocked our nation,” McConnell said in an Aug. 5 statement. “Senate Republicans are ready to do our part.”
“Only serious, bicameral, bicameral efforts will enable us to continue this important work and produce more legislation that can pass the Senate and House of Representatives and earn the President’s signature,” he said. “Partisan theatrics and campaign rhetoric will only further distance us from the progress that all Americans deserve.”
“What we can’t do is fail at something,” McConnell said in an interview on WHAS radio a few days later. “The urgency of this hasn’t escaped any of us.”
Even Trump believed McConnell’s words.
“I am convinced that Mitch wants to do something,” Trump told reporters on August 13, 2019.
But a month later, as Trump’s passion for the issue waned, McConnell changed course.
“My members know the very simple fact that to make a law you have to have a presidential signature,” he told reporters Sept. 10.
It was never matched.
McConnell’s office declined to comment on the report.
McConnell’s habit of relying on a theoretical, distant concept of a bipartisan solution has the same effect as politicians offering their “thoughts and prayers” to victims—only it’s less recognizable as an empty gesture of change. However, McConnell was not always superior in offering those thoughts and prayers.
In June 2015, after a white supremacist shot and killed nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, McConnell went to the Senate to “let the American people know that today the Senate is thinking of you and the victims you killed.” loved. ”
“We also think of the entire congregation in this historic church,” he said.
No law change resulted from the Charleston shooting.
The same is true of the mass shootings later in 2015 at Umpqua Community College in Oregon that killed 10 people and the San Bernardino shooting that killed 16 people. McConnell showed compassion for the victims and their families, but was quick to criticize President Barack Obama’s proposed solutions in early 2016 as partisan.
“After the President’s vow to ‘politicize’ shootings, it’s hard to understand that today’s announcement is about more than politics,” McConnell said.
In the days after the Las Vegas shooting that killed 59 people at a concert, McConnell told reporters it was “inappropriate to politicize such an event.”
“The investigation is not even complete and I think it is premature to discuss legal solutions, if there are any,” he said.
After 17 people were murdered at a high school in Parkland, Fla., McConnell was instrumental in passing reform legislation known as the Fix NICS Act, which helped include criminal record information in the National Instant Criminal Background Check system ( NICS) from state and federal authorities. McConnell also oversaw the passage of a STOP School Violence Act that provided funds to prepare for and prevent gun violence in schools.
But these reforms were a far cry from the sweeping changes most proponents believe are needed to actually reduce gun violence. And more often than not, McConnell’s willingness to become involved in issues that might regulate or expand current gun laws has been fleeting.
Of course, McConnell doesn’t always just push for a bipartisan solution that doesn’t exist.
Days later, after the shocking Sandy Hook shooting of 2012, McConnell told reporters that the whole of Congress was “united in condemning the violence in Newtown and the need to enforce our laws.” As we continue to learn the facts, Congress will consider whether there is an appropriate and constitutional response that would better protect our citizens.”
But in an interview on ABC in January, McConnell made it clear that his focus was elsewhere when asked by host George Stephanopolous if Republicans were open to proposals for a new gun violence task force headed by then-Vice President Joe Biden.
“Well, first we need to focus on Joe Biden’s group, and what will they recommend?” McConnell said. “And after they do that, we will decide what, if anything, is appropriate in that area.”
“But the biggest problem we have right now is spending and debt,” he continued. “That will dominate Congress until the end of March. I don’t think any of these issues will be the priority over the next two or three months, which will be spending and debt.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/mitch-mcconnell-is-pulling-his-favorite-move-after-mass-shootings?source=articles&via=rss Mitch McConnell pulls his favorite train after mass shooting