A Senate staffer tells me gun legislation is dead, at least for the time being, because of the impeachment inquiry.
— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) September 25, 2019
Democrats are signaling to their voters they consider hearings on third-hand whistleblower allegations way more important than the policy issues those voters elected them to work on. Most notably, gun legislation, which had been discussed in recent weeks as forthcoming, but had been stalled while the White House made up its mind on expanded background checks.
It’s now stalled indefinitely because Democrats apparently prefer to work on an impeachment inquiry (whatever that means) and hold hearings on a dubious whistleblower account in an attempt to go after Trump again rather than draft and debate policy legislation.
Going after Trump appears to be their sole priority.
It had been five days since Chris Murphy had heard from the Trump administration on negotiations over expanding background checks on gun sales. On the sixth day, the Connecticut Democrat endorsed an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
The move sealed what many of Murphy’s colleagues had long suspected: That gun negotiations have fallen apart and may be impossible to resurrect now that the vast majority of House Democrats and a growing minority of Democratic senators are now calling for the president’s impeachment. The prospect of cutting a deal with the president that was at odds with the NRA was always a long-shot, but now it seems downright implausible for Trump to negotiate on guns with Democrats seeking to oust him from office.
Lawmakers like to talk about walking and chewing gum at the same time, but Murphy acknowledges that the march toward impeachment “may temporarily be the end of the road for a lot of legislative initiatives,” including his.
As Gutowksi reports at the Washington Free Beacon, Democrats had been the ones most eager to get things moving on gun control legislation, but the impeachment inquiry “sucks up all the oxygen,” according to one Senate staffer.
And that’s not the only thing the mission to investigate Trump for impeachable offenses will stall.
The inquiry, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.) officially labeled an impeachment investigation, will consume Washington for the weeks and months ahead, according to the sources. They also said it will be difficult to move key legislative priorities like a reworked North American trade deal and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, not to mention a passable gun control package.
The impeachment inquiry may have ended any hope to find a gun bill that could pass in the near term.
“I’m hoping that these things can be compartmentalized and that we can continue to pursue policy that I’ve been advocating,” Senator Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) told Politico. “But I acknowledge that a lot of clamoring for impeachment is not helpful. It makes it more difficult.”
Some senators are still holding out hope for something to get done, and White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland, who floated the idea of a universal background check system on Capitol Hill to a frosty reception last week, told Politico the White House is still working to find a way forward.
Trump had apparently reached out to Pelosi on Tuesday according to Politico, telling the House Speaker they were very close on gun legislation. However, that did not stop Speaker Pelosi from announcing Wednesday morning that the House’s preference and intent was to look into impeachable offenses, apparently at the expense of everything else.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking at The Atlantic’s Ideas Summit in Washington, confirmed that Trump called her Tuesday morning to talk about gun violence and told her “we’re getting close to a solution.” But then the conversation “segued into other things,” she added.
Sorry Democrat voters who hoped their elected legislators were planning on actually legislating. You’ll have to content yourselves with a hunt for something impeachable. And nothing else.