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McConnell silent on floor as gun debate rages

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not mention the raging debate over gun control when he opened the Senate o...

Posted: Mar 1, 2018 5:46 PM
Updated: Mar 1, 2018 5:46 PM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not mention the raging debate over gun control when he opened the Senate on Thursday, a day after President Donald Trump created widespread confusion about what policies he wants Congress to pursue at an extraordinary televised meeting with bipartisan lawmakers at the White House.

At the rambling and far-reaching session, Trump appeared to embrace more Democratic proposals than Republican. That left lawmakers from both parties uncertain about what their next steps should be, especially as they warily await to see if Trump reverses course on any of those controversial positions after sleeping on them.

McConnell, cautious by nature, is aware that's possible. He has witnessed Trump do it before on immigration and other issues, and may be keeping his powder dry to see how things shake out.

That might help explain why the veteran Kentucky senator, who has carefully navigated the politically treacherous gun debate since the mass shooting at a high school in Florida two weeks ago, declined to offer any words or direction about the policy path he would like the GOP-controlled House and Senate to take -- even though his colleagues and many Americans are anxious to know his intentions.

RELATED: The 43 most eye-popping lines from Donald Trump's 'surreal' gathering on guns

Instead, he spoke on the floor briefly about the late evangelist Billy Graham, whose body was laying in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, and more extensively about tax reform, the key legislative accomplishment that just passed Congress.

Graham was a "remarkable man whose preaching inspired millions worldwide, who counseled presidents and world leaders across generations, and whom an entire nation came to know as 'America's pastor,'" McConnell said.

McConnell and other Republicans clearly were caught off guard by the freewheeling White House meeting Wednesday, when Trump seemed to dismiss their concerns about raising the age from 18 to 21 to buy some rifles, expanding background checks to all purchases and doing away with due process rights for people who are turned down from buying gun after being rejected through a background check.

McConnell had never pushed for a full-throated debate on gun control, despite the recent spate of mass shootings. Earlier this week, he tried to quickly approve a bill making modest changes to background checks.

On Monday, he asked for unanimous consent from all senators to vote on, with limited debate, a measure to improve reporting compliance with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System through financial incentives, a bill co-sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican and the second ranking GOP member in the chamber, and Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat. But the plan -- which is referred to as "Fix NICS" -- got bogged down when conservative Republicans raised objections to it.

Now McConnell and GOP leaders must figure out what to do next, balancing the President's call for action against their own heartfelt concerns about limiting the Second Amendment rights of their constituents and the political backlash they might face if they voted for Trump's proposed restrictions.

McConnell discussed the difficulty of passing gun legislation at a news conference Tuesday.

"We have been down this path before. There are bipartisan differences about how to address this issue that continually snag every effort," he said. "So what Sen. Cornyn has suggested is that we take something we all agree on -- not in any way claiming it's a panacea but at least show some progress toward dealing with one element of the problem."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319511

Reported Deaths: 7368
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22267267
Hinds20657421
Harrison18401317
Rankin13868282
Jackson13681248
Madison10239224
Lee10052176
Jones8458167
Forrest7824153
Lauderdale7257242
Lowndes6501150
Lamar634088
Lafayette6303121
Washington5419136
Bolivar4836133
Panola4665110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4600147
Marshall4572105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425073
Union415677
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386487
Leflore3515125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3368111
Alcorn324272
Scott319774
Yazoo314171
Adams305886
Itawamba305078
Copiah299666
Coahoma298484
Simpson298189
Tippah291868
Prentiss283661
Leake271774
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231268
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187754
Stone187433
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174032
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry126738
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman81916
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69432
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
Out of AL00
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Columbus
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The relative lack of humidity has been a welcome change from the summertime stuffiness we’ve had lately. That lack of humidity will once again ensure that temperatures get down into the mid 60s for early morning Thursday. While Friday morning will remain comfortable as well, rain chances ratchet up as a tropical system approaches this weekend.
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