Congress will leave the Capitol at the end of this week for a two-month break without passing legislation to tighten access to guns, setting up a volatile summer recess in which the issue is expected to play prominently in the campaigns.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) told Republicans at a closed-door GOP conference meeting on Tuesday that a package that includes a gun-control measure wouldn’t get a vote this week, lawmakers at the meeting said, in a reversal from previous plans. He indicated that holding a vote risked inflaming tensions further at time when the country is already on edge after shootings in Dallas and Orlando in recent weeks, they said. The Senate had earlier considered several bills, but none passed.
“The thought was it would be—not intentionally—but perhaps inflammatory really at a pretty difficult time for the country,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.) “We want to talk about solutions without trying to make things worse, and this was probably kind of a step backwards.”
Gun policy in the wake of recent shootings has become a political topic in a way that hasn’t been seen in years, stirring up strong feelings on both sides of the aisle and within each party.
Republicans, in an unusual alliance with the American Civil Liberties Union, worry that any efforts to block the sale of guns to people on government watch lists risks denying Americans their due-process rights because of errors in government record keeping. Democrats say that Congress can’t sit idle while gun deaths mount and promise a summer filled with vigils and protests to pressure House Republicans to schedule a vote.
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