US Senate’s McConnell to consider gun background checks following mass shootings
He said Donald Trump is “anxious” to reach an outcome on the issue.
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he wants to consider background checks and other bills in the wake of a series of deadly mass shootings.
The announcement sets up a potentially pivotal moment when lawmakers return to the capital.
The Republican leader won’t be calling senators back to work early, as some are demanding.
But he told a Kentucky radio station that President Donald Trump called him Thursday morning and they talked about several ideas.
The president, he said, is “anxious to get an outcome and so am I”.
Stakes are high for all sides, but particularly for Mr Trump and his party.
Republicans have long opposed expanding background checks — a bill passed by the Democratic-led House is stalled in the Senate — but they face enormous pressure to do something after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, that killed 31 people.
Mr McConnell, who is facing protests outside his Louisville home, can shift attention back to Democrats by showing a willingness to engage ahead of the 2020 election.
He said: “What we can’t do is fail to pass something. What I want to see here is an outcome.”
Mr McConnell said he and Mr Trump discussed various ideas on the call, including background checks and the so-called “red flag” laws that allow authorities to seize firearms from someone deemed a threat to themselves or others.
Mr McConnell told Louisville’s WHAS-AM: “Background checks and red flags will probably lead the discussion.”
“Those are two items that for sure will be front and centre as we see what we can come together on and pass.”
Mr Trump been interested in federal background checks before — and tweeted Monday about them — only to drop the issue later, a turnaround similar to his reversal on gun proposals after the 2018 high school shooting at Parkland, Florida.
The powerful National Rifle Association and its allies on Capitol Hill have long wielded influence, but the gun lobby’s grip on Democrats started slipping some time ago, and it’s unclear how much sway the NRA and other gun groups still hold over Republicans in the Trump era.
Spending to support candidates backing tougher gun control measures — mostly Democrats — surged in the 2018 midterms, even as campaign spending by the NRA declined.