Democrats held the Senate floor for about five hours Tuesday hoping to underscore the chamber’s lack of action on passing gun legislation after several deadly shootings in recent weeks.
Democrats, who are trying to pressure Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring up gun control legislation, began speaking on the Senate floor at 5:20 p.m. and the chamber adjourned little before 10:20 p.m.
Wrapping up the lengthy speeches, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told McConnell it was time to “put up or shut up,” The Hill writes.
“Politicians offering their thoughts and prayers just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s put up or shut up. Leader McConnell, Senate Republicans, what will you do?” he asked.
“What we’re asking for is very simple. …It should be an obvious thing to do, a simple up-or-down vote on legislation, an up-or down vote on H.R. 8 let me say it again. Leader McConnell, put H.R. 8 up for a vote on the floor,” Schumer added.
The Democratic-controlled House, supported by eight GOP representatives, passed a universal background check bill earlier this year and since then, Democrats have been calling on the Senate to do the same and send the legislation to President Donald Trump’s desk for signing.
However, the Senate majority leader has maintained the bill does not have the support of the President and has thus refused to bring it up for vote. The legislation has even prompted a veto threat from the White House.
McConnell said Tuesday that lawmakers were in a “holding pattern,” waiting for the President to signal what he would be willing to sign.
“What I would like to know is, you know, what he thinks would make some progress and he would sign. And until we get that kind of guidance, we’re in a holding pattern so to speak,” McConnell noted.
Democrats criticized McConnell over his comments, saying that it is Congress that needs to pass bills, not ask for the President’s support before voting.
“Let me just say that’s not actually how the Senate is supposed to operate. We’re supposed to originate the legislation. We’re supposed to be the world’s greatest deliberative body,” said Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii.
Senator Chris Murphy, who organized the Tuesday floor speeches, added that “none of us are required to get permission slips from the President before we act.”
White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland said later in the day that administration representatives would meet with lawmakers by the end of the week to discuss a bill that could pass both chambers of Congress.