WASHINGTON – The House Republican anti-terrorism bill that includes Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin’s gun measure on Thursday remained on hold, with no timeline for passage, as House Speaker Paul Ryan worked to overcome opposition from his party’s conservative bloc.
While Republicans worked on their legislative response to the Orlando and San Bernardino terrorist mass shootings, Democrats staged another protest to demand a vote on its bill to expand background checks to firearm sales at gun shows and on the internet.
The prospect for any gun-related legislation to get a vote soon grows dimmer each day because Congress is scheduled to leave at the end of next week for the presidential nominating conventions later this month and will not return until September.
House Republican leaders had hoped to vote on the anti-terrorism package this week when they unveiled it just before the July 4th weekend, but they ran into opposition from their party’s conservative Freedom Caucus, which objected to both terrorism and gun provisions.
Ryan (R-Wis.) said many House members had suggestions for changes after the proposed legislation was posted, and his aide said there is no timeline for a vote or passage of it.
“We’re trying to reflect the consensus of our conference so that we can bring a bill to the floor,” Ryan said at a news briefing. “And we’re not going to rush it—we’re going to get this right.”
Zeldin (R-Shirley) said he has been meeting and talking with colleagues about his measure in the anti-terrorism bill. It would require law enforcement to get a court order within three business days to block a suspected terrorist from legally buying a gun.
Meanwhile, House Democrats — who staged a rare and unconventional sit in last week to demand votes on their two bills — launched another action Thursday by repeatedly asking House Republicans for consent to hold a vote on the expanded background check bill. As expected, Reublicans did not give their consent.
The tactic, known as the unanimous consent “conga line,” lasted for nearly three hours as about two dozen Democrats — including Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) and Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) — rose one after the other to name and show pictures of gunshot victims.
Ryan has refused to hold a vote the bills pushed by Democrats to expand background checks and Rep. Peter King’s (R-Seaford) measure allowing law enforcement to block, without first getting a court order, members of terrorist watch lists from legally buying guns.