Congress passes bipartisan gun legislation, sending bill to Biden

On Friday, the House approved bipartisan gun legislation overwhelmingly endorsed by the Senate late the day before, sending it to President Biden for his signature. It is the most significant update to the nation’s gun laws in nearly three decades.

The bill, called The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed the lower house by a vote of 234 to 193, with 14 Republicans joining all Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi read the vote tally after concluding to applause from members of Congress on the floor.

Bill improves background checks for gun buyers under 21, provides billions of dollars for mental health services and to strengthen schools, and closes so-called ‘boyfriend loophole’ to stop convicted domestic abusers from buying a gun for five years. The plan also provides $750 million in grants to incentivize states to implement crisis response programs, clarifies the definition of a federally licensed firearms dealer and creates criminal penalties for straw purchases and arms trafficking.

Congressional pistols
From left, Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, and Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-California listen as they attend an event on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on gun violence Friday, June 24, 2022.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The president has indicated that he will sign the bill quickly.

The passage of the legislation by both houses ends nearly 30 years of inaction by Congress, which has been unable to find common ground on changes to federal gun laws, even amid an increase in gun violence and mass shootings across the country.

But after shootings in Buffalo, New Yorkand Uvalde, Texaswhich has left a total of 31 dead, a bipartisan group of senators – led by Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut and John Cornyn of Texas – have been pressured to find consensus again on tougher gun laws, which resulted in the plan that is now headed for Mr. Biden. desk.

The Senate passed the bill 65-33 late Thursday night, with 15 Republicans voting for the measure. Republican Senator Tom Cotton did not vote, nor did Republican Senator Kevin Cramer, who is in North Dakota recovering from a serious hand injury. All Democratic senators voted for the bill.

The House began procedural votes on the bill Friday morning and passed it hours later, just before lawmakers left Washington for a two-week recess. Democrats broadly backed the plan, but House Republican leaders encouraged their GOP members to oppose the legislation, arguing it was part of an effort to erode the Second Amendment rights of abiding Americans. of the law.

Still, the plan has garnered support from a small coalition of Republicans, including Rep. Tony Gonzales, who represents Uvalde, where a gunman last month killed 19 children and two teachers in an elementary school.

Shortly after the Texas massacre, bipartisan Senate negotiators began talks to strike a deal in response to the latest wave of mass shootings. They published a framework of the proposal earlier this month, and unveiled the legislation on Tuesday.

The Senate plan is narrower than a set of bills passed in the House last month, which, among other reforms, would raise the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 and ban magazines of great capacity. This legislation, however, would not have garnered the support of enough Republicans to advance to the Senate.

Although the bill also stops at what Mr. Biden has urged Congress to do, he supports the legislation and on Thursday called on the House to act quickly.

“Tonight, after 28 years of inaction, bipartisan members of Congress came together to answer the call of families across the country and passed legislation to address the scourge of gun violence in our communities,” Biden said during the Senate’s passage of the legislation on Thursday. . “Families in Uvalde and Buffalo – and too many tragic shootings before – demanded action. And tonight we acted. This bipartisan legislation will help protect Americans. Children in schools and communities will be safer. security through this. The House of Representatives should quickly vote on this bipartisan bill and send it to my office.”

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