Congressional Dems lead House votes on gun control
Background checks, extended reviews clear House, largely on party lines
By Ted Cox
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the first major gun-control legislation in a quarter century Wednesday and again on Thursday, passing a pair of complementary bills on background checks on all sales and transfers.
Although the initial bill, House Resolution 8, had bipartisan sponsorship, it largely passed on party lines, by a vote of 240-190. Eight Republicans voted in favor, while two Democrats opposed. All 18 members of the Illinois House delegation voted along party lines.
On Thursday, the House voted 228-198 to extend the review period for those background checks from three to 10 days. That was more along party lines, as seven Democrats voted against, with three Republicans in favor. Again, all 18 Illinois members of the House followed party lines.
U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, of north-suburban Deerfield, succeeded in adding an amendment calling for the FBI to report on the background checks it’s unable to complete in the allotted time. “This amendment will help keep track of the FBI’s ability to clear background checks in a timely manner, as well as give a better understanding of where there is still room for improvement,” Schneider said on the House floor. “All who support common-sense solutions to reduce the gun violence epidemic in this country should support this amendment and the underlying legislation.”
It passed with widespread support by a vote of 282-144. Republican Congressmen Mike Bost, Rodney Davis, Adam Kinzinger, and John Shimkus all joined in the majority, with only Darin LaHood holding out in opposition.
Passage of the initial bill Wednesday was cheered by U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, a Democrat from south-suburban Matteson who was elected to Congress six years ago on a campaign propelled by gun control. Kelly, in fact, served as House speaker pro tem and held the gavel during passage.
“I was proud to stand on the House floor today and vote yes on lifesaving legislation to ensure a background check is conducted on every gun sale,” Kelly said in a statement after the vote. “This is simply common sense, and the vast majority of Americans, including gun owners and (National Rifle Association) members, support this legislation.”
Kelly called it “a first step toward delivering on our promise to do something, prevent gun violence, and save lives,” adding, “More work remains to ensure that we address this public-safety and public-health crisis that takes the lives of more than 30,000 Americans each and every year.”
The bills faced dim prospects in the Republican-controlled Senate, however, as well as a likely veto from President Trump even if it were to clear Congress.
Kelly nonetheless urged Senate passage, saying, “With more than 90 percent of Americans supporting a background (check) on every gun sale, this legislation should have passed Congress years ago.”