Congress Looks to September 30 Fiscal Year as Insurrection Hearings, Mass Shootings Dominate Headlines
June 13, 2022
Lawmakers are “looking at a CR right now,” Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) told Bloomberg last week. A Continuing Resolution (CR) will keep the government running beyond September 30, and there is a chance that lawmakers can strike a deal for votes on full-scale appropriations legislation in the lame duck session between the November midterm elections and the end of the calendar year, he said.
On Capitol Hill, the overall environment is weighed down by the politics of the midterm elections and turning out each party’s base voters, making it increasingly difficult for lawmakers to find policy agreement.
January 6 Hearings
Last Thursday, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol held its first public hearing before a primetime audience. Additional hearings are planned for this week on June 13 and June 15 at 10:00am (Eastern); hearings can be viewed here. More hearings are planned for June 21 and 23. The select committee is working with a former ABC News executive to help produce the hearing, and interviewed more than 1,000 individuals and gathered 140,000-plus documents.
Mass Shooting Response
On Sunday a bipartisan group of 20 senators, 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats, announced they have agreed in what was described by Punchbowl News as, “the most significant gun-control initiative that has a chance of being passed by Congress since then-President Bill Clinton signed the assault weapons ban in 1994. The agreement has support from President Biden, as well as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Now Senators are drafting legislative language that they hope to vote on before July 4. The legislation would:
- Fund states that adopt and set up their own “red flag” laws. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia currently have such laws in place.
- “Billions in new funding” for school safety and community mental health clinics. The talks centered around as much as $7 billion for these clinics.
- Closing the “boyfriend loophole,” which will add domestic violence abusers and individuals “subject to domestic violence restraining orders” to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System run by the FBI, including romantic partners.
- New barriers on “straw purchases” of guns, which is designed to cut down on illegal weapons trafficking.
- “Enhanced background checks” for gun buyers under 21. This includes a “short pause” for a check of juvenile criminal and mental health records.
- New restrictions on gun sellers who “illegally evade” federal firearms licensing requirements.
Separately, last week the House voted on two gun measures that have no chance of passing the Senate, following emotional testimony by victims of the Uvalde shooting and CEOs of more than 220 companies called on the Senate to "take immediate action" to reduce gun violence. One House bill, H.R. 2377, the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, passed by a vote of 224-202. The bill would allow police and individuals to seek extreme risk protection orders for the temporary seizure of firearms in federal courts – a so-called “red flag” process.
A second House bill, H.R. 7910, the Protecting Our Kids Act, passed last week by a similar near-party line vote of 223-204, and demonstrated that gun issues are not as partisan as one might expect, as reported by Politico.
- Two Democrats voted no: Reps. Jared Golden (ME) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR), who lost his primary challenge last month.
- Five Republicans voted yes: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Chris Jacobs (NY), Adam Kinzinger (IL), and Fred Upton (MI). Of these five, only Fitzpatrick is running for reelection. The remaining four will not return to Congress next year.
What made the legislative process for the Protecting Our Kids Act especially unique was that individual votes were held on specific gun policies within the bill. This was done in part to satisfy moderate House Democrats and to put additional political pressure on Republicans to act. A handful of members of both parties broke ranks on individual provisions.
To raise the minimum age of semiautomatic weapon buyers from 18 to 21:
- Two Democrats voted no: Reps. Jared Golden (ME), Kurt Schrader (OR)
- 10 Republicans voted yes: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Chris Jacobs (NY), John Katko (NY), Adam Kinzinger (IL), Nicole Malliotakis (NY), Maria Salazar (FL), Chris Smith (NJ), Michael Turner (OH), and Fred Upton (MI)
To prevent gun trafficking:
- One Democrat voted no: Rep. Golden
- Seven Republicans voted yes: Reps. Fitzgerald, Gonzalez, Jacobs, Katko, Kinzinger, Malliotakis, Salazar
To ban 'ghost guns':
- One Democrat voted no: Rep. Golden
- Eight Republicans voted yes: Reps. Fitzpatrick, Gonzalez, Jacobs, Katko, Kinzinger, Malliotakis, Smith, Upton
To establish fines for unsafe gun storage:
- Two Democrats voted no: Reps. Golden and Ron Kind (Wis.)
- Three Republicans voted yes: Reps. Fitzpatrick, Jacobs, Kinzinger
To ban bump stocks:
- 13 Republicans voted yes: Reps. Ken Calvert (Calif.) Fitzpatrick, Gonzalez, Jacobs, David Joyce (Ohio), Katko, Kinzinger, Malliotakis, Salazar, Smith (N.J.), Turner, Upton, David Valadao (Calif.)
To ban high-capacity magazines:
- Four Democrats voted no: Reps. Henry Cuellar (Texas), Golden, Kind, Schrader
- Four Republicans voted yes: Fitzpatrick, Jacobs, Kinzinger, Upton
One gun policy, which would establish a report on demographic data by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, received broad bipartisan support by all Democrats and 160 Republicans.