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Gun control debate: Trump to meet with key lawmakers Wednesday

In the congressional debate over gun control, all eyes are on the Cabinet Room in the White House for a Wednesday aft...

Posted: Feb 28, 2018 1:26 PM
Updated: Feb 28, 2018 1:27 PM

In the congressional debate over gun control, all eyes are on the Cabinet Room in the White House for a Wednesday afternoon meeting.

As House Republicans made clear, any and all gun restrictions were off the table, and senators still grappled with what, if any, path forward they had. It's President Donald Trump who will dictate the next steps in the gun debate.

Bottom line: Sweeping gun restrictions -- at this point, any gun restrictions -- are not in the cards in the Republican-led Congress. That much seems clear. But the top aides in both parties continue to acknowledge that the President can scramble the direction of things if the meeting takes some kind of unexpected turn toward, say, the universal background checks measure that's hanging out in the Senate.

Several aides in touch with the White House on guns say the same thing: There is no unified position on where the building stands on the issue.

"All over the map," one aide said.

"Serious splits on how this should go," said another.

And perhaps most importantly, from an aide working on the path forward on guns: "They are sitting over there just waiting to see with the President tweets or says, then trying to translate it for us as best they can. It's really reactive at this point, and that makes our job more complicated."

All of this makes Wednesday's meeting all the more important.

Actual developments

The parameters for an actual Senate gun debate are starting to form behind the scenes. Right now, talks continue about setting up a debate next week, with the bipartisan background check compliance bill -- "Fix NICS" -- serving as the base legislation and with each side getting a handful of amendment votes.

RELATED: The path on guns is narrow, but emerging

How to view this: Aides in both parties say the votes are not currently there in the Senate for universal background checks, raising the age for long gun purchases or limiting high capacity magazines. Assault-style weapons ban is completely out of the question. But Senate Majority Leader McConnell now appears willing to give some of those amendments votes (in exchange for several on the Republican side) next week if a time limit agreement can be reached. Game changer? No. But a substantive effort to do something? Yes.

And yet: No matter what the Senate does, House Speaker Paul Ryan made crystal clear where House Republicans stand at the moment. During a weekly news conference Tuesday, the Wisconsin Republican said, "We should be focusing on making sure that citizens who shouldn't get guns in the first place don't get those guns."

Reality check: As it currently stands, the end result remains likely to be what it's looked like for several days -- the "Fix NICS" bill, combined with some type of financial package for school security and violence prevention.

The Senate floor was the place to be Tuesday afternoon

Sitting in the gallery overlooking the Senate floor during Tuesday's vote series gave a great window into how this was all coming together.

Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranked Republican in the chamber, was discussing possible time agreements and amendment structures with Connecticut Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal on the Senate floor. After a few days without contact, McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer spoke. Cornyn spoke with West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, one of the co-sponsors of a universal background check bill, as did Schumer.

Behind the scenes: Multiple sources say the closed-door Senate Republican policy lunch and the leadership meeting beforehand made clear just how little consensus exists on the path forward even among GOP senators themselves.

The lunch itself focused primarily on school safety, with an array of proposals brought up as possible options. Gun restrictions were hardly broached, save for several comments about how it's the direction Democrats want to go.

"There is an acknowledgment that we should do something," one GOP senator told me. "But we are all over the place as to what that something is right now."

Reality check part 2: While Wednesday's White House meeting is expected by aides and lawmakers in both parties to lay out the path forward for the debate, don't think there aren't also risks. As the Senate Republicans and Democrats seem to agree on the fragile construct of a debate next week, multiple aides expressed concern to me Tuesday night that the President will do something to blow all of that up, and potentially live on camera.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
Oktibbeha6964124
Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
Bolivar6115144
Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
Lincoln5303131
George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
Tippah446480
Itawamba4444100
Adams4416116
Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
Wayne433066
Copiah431787
Yazoo423386
Covington415792
Sunflower4148104
Marion4099104
Leake397586
Coahoma3957100
Newton370875
Grenada3556104
Stone350860
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Attala325387
Jasper314162
Winston304691
Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 789054

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1115991765
Mobile708511234
Madison49865633
Shelby36274315
Baldwin36242495
Tuscaloosa33931548
Montgomery33190678
Lee22680220
Calhoun21211410
Morgan19816335
Etowah19300462
Marshall17680274
Houston16823386
St. Clair15442305
Cullman14602258
Limestone14581188
Elmore14480264
Lauderdale13520281
Talladega12958236
DeKalb12199237
Walker10588330
Blount9720157
Autauga9667137
Jackson9385158
Coffee8882175
Dale8609173
Colbert8534184
Tallapoosa6673181
Escambia6591121
Covington6452167
Chilton6385144
Russell607255
Franklin5795101
Chambers5416134
Marion4800120
Dallas4705189
Clarke463279
Pike462397
Geneva4413117
Winston425895
Lawrence4117108
Bibb409381
Barbour347270
Marengo326285
Monroe320053
Butler318290
Randolph305956
Pickens305274
Henry301858
Hale292685
Cherokee289855
Fayette279673
Washington245448
Crenshaw238470
Cleburne235851
Clay228565
Macon220158
Lamar197743
Conecuh182046
Lowndes170758
Coosa170235
Wilcox159736
Bullock149243
Perry136537
Sumter124536
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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