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The gun debate that wasn't

It turns out nothing -- not even President Donald Trump -- can change Congress on guns.But after a week of tal...

Posted: Mar 2, 2018 8:17 AM
Updated: Mar 2, 2018 8:17 AM

It turns out nothing -- not even President Donald Trump -- can change Congress on guns.

But after a week of talk, after students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School personally lobbied lawmakers, and the President continued his public push to overhaul the country's gun laws, members of Congress departed Washington on Thursday afternoon without having voted on a single gun bill and without any plans in the near future to take action on one.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Thursday afternoon that the plan for the week ahead was to vote on a bill to change the Dodd-Frank banking law, not to tackle even modest changes to gun laws.

Asked if the Senate will take up gun legislation next week, McConnell said, "No, we're going to the Crapo bill next week," he said referencing the banking bill from Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo.

On changes to gun laws he added, "we'd love to do that at some point. I'm hoping there is a way forward."

The lack of momentum on gun control came as Capitol Hill was still confounded Thursday following a wide-ranging, televised meeting at the White House on guns where Trump challenged long-held conservative positions on guns and called out the National Rifle Association by name.

Trump asked for an increase in the age at which individuals could buy rifles, embraced a background check bill that expanded checks for gun show and internet sales and told House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana that a concealed carry bill that had passed out of the House -- and was a key leverage point for the GOP -- wouldn't pass in the Senate.

But none of it seemed to translate into the Republican Party following Trump's lead.

For Republicans, the meeting undercut a central talking point they'd held all week. There was an answer in the wake of the shooting in Parkland, Florida: It was a combination of school safety measures and a modest bill that incentivized state and federal agencies to enter more records into the country's background check database called "Fix NICs."

On Wednesday, Trump insisted on more, cutting against the grain of GOP orthodoxy on the Second Amendment and playing right into Democrats' talking points that Fix NICs wasn't enough on gun control.

Behind the scenes, aides were fuming, arguing Trump had taken the party too far. One Republican noted that Trump's refusal to slam the door on the assault-rifle-style weapons ban when Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, brought it up was "malpractice from the standpoint of our guys."

On the record, members were more judicious.

"I'm not going to criticize the President," said Sen. Jim Risch, a Republican from Idaho who wasn't in the White House meeting. "The people who were there characterized it as a brainstorming session. Those are usually done best privately."

Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas and the chamber's second-ranking GOP member, said if "Fix NICs" made it to the floor, it would get "80 votes" even if Trump has insists he wants more.

There are still some discussions happening behind the scenes, but any gun debate would need the blessing of leadership and the time for action is running short. Next week, the Senate will debate a banking bill and then quickly approaching is a deadline on a funding bill.

Sens. Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, have been trying to rework and build more consensus for their more comprehensive background check bill they pushed for five years ago that would have expanded the checks to gun shows and internet sales. But few Republicans were willing to go on the record supporting it yet.

"I am convinced there is a bipartisan product that could come out of this process and it would be on keeping dangerous people from getting guns," said Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio. "I am hopeful we can get through this thing with something that actually helps."

Asked if he backed Manchin-Toomey, however, Portman said he'd need to see a final product.

Democrats expressed disappointment that more wasn't done at the end of a week where so much national momentum was behind them.

"This is a moment when America wants us to act," said New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker. "Fundamental to the purpose of government is the common defense and we're just not doing it."

Democrats had been cautiously optimistic Wednesday after the White House meeting that Trump's discussions would lead to some real progress, but it wasn't clear Trump had the power to shift his party on an issue as core to them as guns.

"I want to be encouraged, but I've seen the movie before," said Washington Sen. Patty Murray, a member of Democratic leadership, "I want to see him go out there and get Republican votes for what he proposed yesterday. When he does that, that's when I'll be impressed."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
Washington5595139
Pearl River5196152
Bolivar4954134
Oktibbeha494398
Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
Pontotoc447773
Union433279
Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
Adams340988
Yazoo339376
Copiah324968
Simpson322891
Itawamba314680
Coahoma314085
Tippah306568
Prentiss298863
Covington293484
Leake285475
Marion284181
Wayne277543
George272251
Grenada269488
Newton262364
Tishomingo239770
Winston236784
Jasper230648
Stone229637
Attala226373
Chickasaw219060
Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 577463

Reported Deaths: 11510
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson841981589
Mobile47171860
Madison37047533
Tuscaloosa26915465
Shelby26873256
Montgomery25918625
Baldwin24499328
Lee16949181
Calhoun15252332
Morgan15017290
Etowah14778370
Marshall12933235
Houston11774292
Elmore10761217
St. Clair10617252
Limestone10574158
Cullman10363205
Lauderdale10083254
DeKalb9382191
Talladega8836188
Walker7681287
Autauga7479114
Jackson7317117
Blount7266139
Colbert6635142
Coffee6163132
Dale5453117
Russell470642
Chilton4682117
Covington4649125
Franklin450081
Tallapoosa4440156
Escambia427882
Chambers3898125
Dallas3717163
Clarke367763
Marion3427106
Pike327879
Lawrence3225101
Winston294973
Bibb284565
Geneva276383
Marengo259967
Barbour246261
Pickens240062
Butler238272
Hale232778
Fayette225264
Henry209245
Monroe197241
Randolph196744
Cherokee196348
Washington180139
Macon168752
Crenshaw165558
Clay163759
Cleburne160245
Lamar149938
Lowndes144854
Wilcox130531
Bullock126142
Conecuh119630
Coosa116929
Perry109928
Sumter109032
Greene98736
Choctaw64325
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Columbus
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Very hot and very humid conditions linger in our area for our Saturday. However, the heat and humidity start to dwindle a bit as we go into our Sunday and beyond. As a matter of fact below normal high temperatures for this time of year.
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