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Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 2:46 PM
Updated: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 2:46 PM
WASHINGTON — Even as Republicans oppose broad new restrictions on guns, Gov. John Kasich and other key GOP lawmakers in Ohio appear willing to embrace changes designed to prevent people from modifying semi-automatic weapons so that they have more lethal, rapid-fire capabilities.
Republicans have resisted calls for major changes in gun laws following previous mass shootings. But in a sign that last Sunday’s Las Vegas shootings have prompted a shift, the National Rifle Association said Thursday there should be “additional regulation” on a device known as a “bump stock.”
The device, which was used by the killer in Las Vegas when he murdered 59 people and injured hundreds of others, can cheaply and legally make a semi-automatic weapon more deadly, allowing it to fire as many as 800 bullets in a minute.
U.S. Rep. Mike Turner of Dayton, and Columbus area Reps. Steve Stivers of Upper Arlington and Pat Tiberi of Genoa Twp. were among the Republicans who say they want to review possible bump-stock restrictions.
Blaming a 2010 Obama administration letter that allowed such devices to be legal, Turner called on Congress to review whether the modification “is still appropriate” while Stivers said the issue “should be re–examined.”
Turner, Tiberi and Stivers, meanwhile, signed a letter calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to “re–evaluate bump stocks and other similar mechanism to ensure full compliance with federal law.” Later Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan also called for a review of such devices.
Federal law prohibits private ownership of automatic weapons built after 1986. But the bump stock has been used to essentially circumvent that ban.
On Wednesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D–Calif., introduced a bill to ban bump stocks, a measure swiftly endorsed by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. A spokeswoman for Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who has been a longtime supporter of gun rights, said “we will do our due diligence on this legislation and review.”
On the CBS Morning News Wednesday, Kasich went even further, saying, “of course” he supports outlawing bump devices.
It was a marked shift by Kasich, who as governor has signed bills backed by the National Rifle Association, including allowing people to carry concealed guns on college campuses and day-care centers and allowing hunters to use noise suppressors while hunting certain birds.
On the broader issue of whether Americans should have relatively easy access to high-capacity semi–automatic weapons, Republicans have shown little interest in Democratic sponsored measures to require universal background checks before purchasing them.
“We must outlaw tools like bump stocks that make firearms even more lethal,” said Andrew Patrick, a spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence in Washington. “But that’s not enough. Bump stocks do not typically contribute much to the 36,000 American gun deaths we see every year.”
The debate over bump stocks, however, was a change from what, for the most part, has been a common refrain in the gun control debate: From the right, that such tragedies should not be politicized, and from the left, that something had to be done.
“While the events that occurred in Las Vegas are an enormous tragedy, and my heart and prayers are with those who are still grieving, I do not believe this is the time for politics,” said Rep. Warren Davidson, R–Troy. “I still believe the Second Amendment is an important part of the Constitution.”
Rep. Jim Renacci, R–Wadsworth, who is seeking next year’s Republican gubernatorial nomination, said, “While I know the media is anxious to start and politicize the gun control debate, I believe we must allow the FBI and local police to continue their investigation and establish the facts at this point.”
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, gave a similar statement: “The Second Amendment is enshrined in our Constitution, and so when the time comes to address what happened, anything we do to try and stop similar horrific and astonishing acts of evil like this must be consistent with the Constitution,” he said.
By contrast, Rep. Joyce Beatty, a Columbus area Democrat, called for “immediate action,” saying “prayers are needed — and certainly help — but those alone will not solve this problem.”
Brown said he was “incredulous that no matter what happens … that my colleagues are doing the bidding of the gun lobby. It’s clear we can do common sense things here to protect the American public better.”
Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Niles, said, “We cannot accept the notion that living in America means living with mass shootings as a common occurrence,” adding that he believes Congress can approve some gun restrictions without denting the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.
Richard Martinez, whose son was killed in 2014 when a shooter open fired on the campus of the University of California Santa Barbara, said this week he’s frustrated by some of the comments he’s heard since the Las Vegas killings.
Published: Monday, January 15, 2018 @ 4:10 PM
With a temporary funding plan for Uncle Sam set to run out Friday night, there was no clear path forward as yet for Congress and the White House, as the President and Democrats remained on a collision course over efforts to secure a deal on spending levels for the 2018 federal budget, as well as an agreement on the status of certain illegal immigrants brought here as children, raising the possibility of a government shutdown at the end of the week.
After arriving back at the White House on Monday night, President Donald Trump re-tweeted four of his own Twitter posts from recent days, as he bluntly criticized Democrats in Congress over immigration and the budget.
“DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it,” the President said, as he charged that Democrats “just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military.”
Let’s take a look at some of legislative sore spots that might come up this week:
1. Budget caps and the military – When you hear about talks on a spending deal, this has to do with the regular budget that the Congress works on each year, covering the funding for government programs like the military, various government departments, the Congress and the Judiciary. President Trump has been calling for a $54 billion increase this year in money for defense – Democrats say they’ll back that if they also get an equal increase in non-defense programs, something GOP leaders don’t want to do. One overall problem with funding levels for this year is simple – until you figure out how much money the feds will spend in 2018, you can’t finish the spending bills for this year. It’s one reason why another short term budget might be needed.
2. Hurricane and wildfire disaster aid – Officials from Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have been making noise for weeks that more aid is overdue to areas hit by major hurricanes in 2017. They also agree that the emergency aid offered up by the President has not been enough. That’s why the $44 billion plan proposed by the White House in December quickly grew into an $81 billion package – and why some lawmakers think it should be even larger. Is it possible that Congress approves that extra aid this week as one way to get a short term funding plan through the House and Senate? Stay tuned.
3. No deadline right now on DACA & Dreamers – The most important thing to remember about the back and forth over the DACA program is timing – it does not have to be solved this week. When President Trump moved to end the Obama Administration program, he set a six month deadline for the Congress to act. That runs out March 5. Democrats don’t want to wait for early March, and have tried to tie any deal on the Dreamers to a plan that funds the federal government – that’s why they want to do it now, at the January 19 shutdown deadline. It still seems like a long shot for the DACA/Dreamers matter to get done in the next three days, simply because the fight over it has so intensified since last Thursday, and immigration remains a very controversial topic.
4. Children’s health insurance – Back at the end of September, the legal authorization expired for a federal-state program which helps about 9 million children get health care coverage. When Congress approved a short term funding plan for the government in December, the House and Senate also kicked in some extra money for the CHIP program – now lawmakers have reached another point where funding is in question for some states, which might have to ratchet back on services if nothing is done this week on Capitol Hill. One recent study said 20 states might have to cut off CHIP coverage. It’s one more thing in the mix this week.
5. Who has more leverage? – This is an interesting argument in Washington, D.C. Democrats believe they have the edge on the DACA issue, especially if the President uses it as the basis for arguing that Democrats are to blame for any government shutdown. Many GOP lawmakers contend they will be sticking up for national defense and a strong border, not for illegal immigrants. My rule of thumb on fights between the Congress and the President usually boils down to one simple idea – never underestimate the power of the President, and his bully pulpit to drive home his arguments. Democrats though think the country will rise up in opposition if Dreamers start being deported en masse. President Trump has the veto pen – he can use it, if he wants to do that.
Stay tuned. This could be a very interesting week in the halls of Congress.
Published: Sunday, January 14, 2018 @ 10:49 AM
Updated: Sunday, January 14, 2018 @ 10:49 AM
— President Donald Trump’s reported use of the word “shithole” to describe Haiti, El Salvador and African countries is not a term that Republican Senate candidate U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci said he would have used.
But, said Renacci, Trump “many times says what people are thinking.”
In an interview with the Dayton Daily News on Friday Renacci said he did not agree with Trump’s opinion.
“I just don’t agree with the way it was said. I don’t agree with the way it was presented,” Renacci said.
He said a businessman involved in politics may not always understand the need to use caution in wording statements.
“And again, when you’re trying to get some things accomplished I think sometimes you’ve got to watch how you say things and why you say things and I just would not have said it. It’s just not my style of negotiating,” Renacci said.
“But again, President Trump is a different type of person and he says things different than I would. I just would not have said it that way.”
Trump has acknowledged making “tough” remarks while meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on immigration reform in a Thursday Oval Office meeting, but this weekend denied that he used that phrase.
One Senator who attended the meeting, Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said Trump used the words; two senators there, Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., said Sunday that he did not.
Trump’s alleged use of the vulgar term has been widely criticized as racist. Trump spoke to reporters Sunday and denied the charge.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, blasted Renacci and Trump’s comments.
“I disagree with Congressman Renacci’s characterization that President Trump’s disgusting and hateful comments about immigrants were speaking for what many Americans are thinking,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. “The President certainly isn’t speaking for me and he isn’t speaking for a great majority of people across Ohio.”
Renacci, a Wadsworth businessman who has been in Congress since 2011, dropped out of the race for Ohio governor and entered the Republican primary for U.S. Senate on Thursday after he said Trump Administration officials met with him Wednesday and asked him to join the race. He said he gave those officials a list of what he would need to enter the race “six to eight months late” although he declined to say what that list included other than promises of political appearances with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
“I needed to make sure that when he came in that I’d be with him, that when the vice president comes in that I’d be with him,” Renacci said. “Everything that I needed to step into this thing they were willing to comply with.”
Renacci faces investment banker and first time political candidate Mike Gibbons, who was already in the GOP race when front-runner, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, dropped out Jan. 5 due to family issues.
The winner of the May 8 primary would face Brown in the November General Election.
Renacci and Gibbons are both characterizing themselves as outsider businessmen who can bring change to Washington. Asked how a man with seven years in Congress running for a six-year term in the U.S. Senate is an “outsider,” Renacci said, “I don’t like Washington. I don’t like career politicians.”
“I went to Washington for the same reason Mike Gibbons wants to go to Washington. The only difference is he’s seven years behind me,” Renacci said. “The good thing now is I’ve been in the belly of the beast and can see how difficult it is to make a difference.”
Gibbons’ campaign spokesman Chris Schrimpf called Renacci “a professional politician and Washington insider who is so desperate to climb the political ladder that he doesn’t even care what office he is running for.”
“If it looks like his political career might end, he just switches races. Mike on the other hand is a real outsider who has never run for office; making him the best candidate to defeat another career politician — Sherrod Brown,” Schrimpf said.
Renacci said he intends to focus on the nation’s growing deficit, reforming immigration and repairing infrastructure. He voted for the $1.5 trillion Republican tax cut and says Congress now needs to cut spending as revenues decline.
“So I am a big believer that we are going to have to look at all spending, we’re going to have to look at Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security,” Renacci said. “I think the Social Security program was put in place to help those at the age of 65 supplement their retirement not be their retirement, but supplement their retirement. I think we need to look at that. I think we need to build programs that allow people to grow for their own retirement.”
Staff writer Jim Otte contributed to this report.
This article was updated Jan. 15 to reflect developments since the first report of the meeting.
Other stories by Lynn Hulsey
Published: Monday, January 15, 2018 @ 5:12 AM
President Donald Trump on Monday once again charged that Democrats in Congress were trying to force a government shutdown later this week by refusing to negotiate an acceptable budget deal for the military, and by not budging on what to do with hundreds of thousands of younger illegal immigrants in the U.S. under the Obama Administration’s DACA program, as that issue continued to be a flash point for the two parties.
“Honestly, I don’t think the Democrats want to make a deal,” the President tweeted on Monday.
“They talk about DACA, but they don’t want to help.”
Government funding runs out Friday night at midnight, and so far there is no evidence of progress in negotiations on a spending agreement for the rest of the current fiscal year; the President wants $54 billion more for the Pentagon in 2018 – Democrats have said they want an equal increase in domestic spending as well.
Along with a short term funding plan and spending bills for 2018, a number of other items remain unresolved in the House and Senate – what to do about funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and billions in disaster relief for victims of 2017 hurricanes and wildfires are two of the notable items.
The House passed an $81 billion disaster relief bill just before Christmas, but no action has been taken on that in the Senate, which has prompted pleas from officials in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico for action.
Congress returns to work on Tuesday. No plan has been publicly announced as yet by GOP leaders for how lawmakers will address this next funding deadline.
Published: Sunday, January 14, 2018 @ 3:49 AM
With a federal court order from last week temporarily blocking President Donald Trump’s move to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the immigration agency in charge of that effort announced that it would again accept applications to renew DACA requests, as President Trump chided Democrats on Sunday over the political impasse on the issue.
“Due to a federal court order, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA,” the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on Saturday.
“Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in this guidance, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017,” the USCIS stated.
While that matter works its way through the courts, President Trump on Sunday was blasting Democrats over failed political efforts to reach a deal on the future of some 800,000 illegal immigrant “Dreamers” under DACA.
“DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it,” the President tweeted from his Florida retreat at Mar-a-Lago.
Last week, there were earnest efforts by a number of lawmakers in both parties in Congress to reach a DACA deal – Mr. Trump has repeatedly made clear that he wants to help the “Dreamers,” but only if Democrats agree to money for his border wall, an end to chain migration, and an end to a visa lottery for people.
But those efforts ran aground last Thursday, as the President railed against the idea of providing more immigration slots to people from Haiti and African nations, using the term “shithole” countries, creating a furor in the U.S. and around the world.
Democrats have been pressing to get a DACA deal included in a spending deal which would fund the operations of the federal government, as Repubilcans and the President have been pushing to include a big increase in defense spending in that same package.
So far, no deal has been struck, and what may happen is that Congress will simply extend a temporary funding measure to avoid a government shutdown.
A bipartisan group of six Senators had reached an agreement on an immigration deal, but it was rejected by the President as a “big step backwards.”
As for the injunction against the administrative end to the plan, which Mr. Trump announced last September, it wasn’t clear when the Trump Administration would make its next legal move in the case.