USA Updates GOP Sen. Lee tells colleagues to hold off on backing gun bill outline
A top Republican senator warned his fellow lawmakers Sunday against throwing their support behind the framework of new gun control legislation until the actual bill text has been hammered out.
“There is still no deal, and yet we continue to be asked by colleagues, by constituents, by reporters, ‘Are you supporting the bill?'” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told “TOU Sunday.,
“This is a very dangerous way to legislate,” he added. “Behind closed doors – you need the transparency of a public conversation with the bill text in front of you.”
“I personally refuse to indicate whether I, or how I will vote on a bill until after I’ve seen the text because there are a lot of things that can go wrong,” Lee went on.
Lee’s comments came just days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters he would support the legislation if the bill text matched the outline introduced last week.
At least ten other GOP senators signed on to the framework: John Cornyn of Texas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.
At least two key points remain at issue between Republican and Democratic negotiators: the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” which concerns whether dating partners guilty of domestic violence can own firearms, and incentives for states to enact so-called “red flag” laws .
Lawmakers involved with the talks have expressed hope of putting a bill on the Senate floor this week before breaking for the July 4 holiday. However, Lee said Sunday that he has not received answers to “any” of his questions about the details.
“Without that language, you can’t ascertain whether it’s ok,” Lee said, warning against legislating “under the heat of the moment, under great emotion, without looking at the text.”
Per the framework, the bill would expand mental health services in all 50 states, extend background checks to include juvenile records of would-be gun buyers under 21, and increase funds for school security and mental health programs.
It would not include an assault weapons ban or increase the legal age to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.
Friday marks the one-month anniversary of a mass shooting at an elementary school in Ulvalde, Texas that killed 19 students and two teachers.
In the aftermath, the Biden Administration, activists and several high profile celebrities – such as actor Matthew McConaughey – have repeatedly called on Congress to pass new gun control legislation.
With the Senate split 50-50, any gun legislation would need at least 10 Republican votes to pass.