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More than 20 House Democrats are pressing Speaker Nancy Pelosi to split their party’s omnibus gun control package into several bills and allow votes on each in order to increase their chance of becoming law.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., is leading the letter, which was first reported by Punchbowl News and confirmed to Fox News by Spanberger’s office. The letter asks Pelosi, D-Calif, to “not combine these bills into one large package,” as Americans ask lawmakers “to govern and pass laws that will protect their children and help make their communities safer.”
Spanberger is joined by a who’s who of Democrats facing tough reelection races this year. They include Reps. Katie Porter, D-Calif., Susan Wild, D-Pa., Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., and more. There are 21 signers of the letter in all.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., speaking at a press conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Spanberger led a letter Thursday pressing House Democrats to break their omnibus gun control package into individual bills. (Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
“Rep. Spanberger and her colleagues who signed this letter look forward to moving all of these measures forward, and they believe that each merits its own vote,” a spokesperson for Spanberger, D-Va., told Fox News Thursday. “The American people expect action, and they deserve to see which proposals can move forward, as well as which specific proposals GOP lawmakers are refusing to support.”
The letter itself makes clear that all 21 signers support every provision of the Protecting Our Kids Act. The omnibus package would raise the age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle to 21, tighten regulations on “ghost guns” and ban new large-capacity magazines, among several other things.
The missive is addressed to Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C. The biggest reason is it says it’s necessary to split the package up into individual bills in the nature of the Senate.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. On Monday, Pelosi announced that proxy voting will remain in place for House members through at least May 14. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
“While we wish every Member of Congress in the House and Senate would join us in supporting all these bills, we know that is not our current reality, and given the composition of the U.S. Congress, we know we must have bipartisan support for bills we want to become law,” the letter says. “As Members of the majority party, we must make a good faith effort to invite our colleagues across the aisle to join us in debating the merits of each bill and in voting for each bill.”
The letter continues: “We fully expect each of these bills will pass in the House, but as we focus on actually delivering for a hurting America, passing each bill individually will ensure that every commonsense measure we are putting forth arrives in the U.S. Senate with the maximum bipartisan support it may garner, recorded through individual votes – giving us the maximum chance of passing gun violence prevention legislation in the Senate and into law.”
Democratic Reps. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia speak at the Cannon House Office Building on April 26, 2022. The two lawmakers signed a letter Thursday asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to break the Protecting Our Children Act into smaller pieces. (Marisa Schultz/Fox News)
Thursday’s letter is just the latest development in a much larger push to pass gun control bills in the wake of several recent mass shootings. Last month, a shooter killed 10 people in a Buffalo supermarket in an apparently racially-motivated attack. Then last week, a gunman killed 19 children and two adults in an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school. There was another mass shooting that killed four people Thursday at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, hospital.
It does not appear that Spanberger and her fellow signers will get their way. In a letter Pelosi sent to her Democratic colleagues later Thursday afternoon, she said the House will vote on the Protecting Our Children Act next week. The speaker also said the House will also vote on red flag legislation and a bill on an alert system for active shooters.
It’s unlikely anything passed by the House will become law, whether in a large package or a smaller bill. The Senate filibuster means that Republicans in the upper chamber will be able to stymie any House bill that doesn’t have bipartisan support.
There is a group of senators working on a potential smaller compromise package. There were two meetings on that possibility this week, and though there’s been little made public about the discussions, senators remain outwardly optimistic.