Joe Biden may have finally discovered how to pass a domestic policy bill, but the ability to do so has lost its luster.
The man who hopes to fill President Barack Obama’s spot in the Oval Office returned to the House and Senate floors Monday night to debate the key elements of his proposed comprehensive package of gun reforms. The former vice president said there should be an assault weapons ban and universal background checks for gun buyers.
“Never again will our children live in fear of random violence. That can be a reality for our country if we come together,” he told a group of pro-gun supporters in a Democratic caucus luncheon on Capitol Hill.
Biden, who has tasked his office with finding common ground between pro-gun and pro-gun control constituencies, also came up with a plan of action during the lunch in his office. He told his Democratic allies to hold their fire from proposing new gun control measures until his gun control proposal was passed and signed into law.
“People are already criticizing me about what you should do,” he said. “The NRA should actually fall in line, because right now it is my gun control plan that is the alternative to the NRA.”
The swift return of Biden back to the Capitol calendar on Monday night didn’t go unnoticed.
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise was asked by reporters what he thought of the former vice president’s plan.
“That sounds like the same kinds of attacks that were seen on that president who had the same initiative,” Scalise said of Obama’s 2013 package of gun control measures. “It’s not what we’ve been doing. He was never able to get in the Senate.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan declined to say whether he thought Biden should focus on foreign policy or domestic matters when he is under consideration for the presidency.
“It’s a difficult thing for the president to say,” Ryan said of Biden’s endorsement of Clinton in an interview. “It’s one thing for the vice president to criticize the president. It’s another thing for him to take credit for a Democratic White House and give that.”
Last month, Biden’s office revealed a draft of an executive order that would expand background checks for gun buyers, potentially gun control legislation Democrats championed in 2009 and 2010, when the party controlled both chambers of Congress. The president has until September 11 to act on the proposal and ask the Supreme Court to overrule a lower court’s ruling that said Obama could not get around Congress on the issue.
Separately, the Obama administration is also looking at a possible legal challenge to further enforce its existing gun control measures. Justice Department officials have started developing an array of measures that go beyond the president’s existing executive orders, including from 2000, when the Supreme Court ruled a long ban on assault weapons was unconstitutional.