Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he’s asked three GOP leaders to discuss bipartisan solutions to gun violence after two mass shootings over the weekend collectively left at least 31 people dead.
The Kentucky Republican, who is notorious for blocking bipartisan legislation, said he’s spoken to Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to “engage in bipartisan discussions of potential solutions to help protect our communities without infringing on Americans’ constitutional rights.”
McConnell said he asked Graham, Wicker and Alexander to come up with legislation “that can pass the Senate, pass the House, and earn the president’s signature.”
“Partisan theatrics and campaign-trail rhetoric will only take us farther away from the progress all Americans deserve,” the GOP leader said, despite his own refusal to work with Democrats.
McConnell has prided himself in being called the “grim reaper,” a nickname that stems from his long history of continuously blocking or killing progressive-leaning legislation in the Republican-controlled Senate, even if the bills have bipartisan support.
Most notably this year, the senator has refused to bring a House-passed universal gun background checks bill to the Senate floor for a vote despite widespread bipartisan support for such legislation. After the mass shootings this past weekend, Democrats renewed their call on McConnell to reconvene the Senate ― which is currently in recess ― to vote on the background checks bill.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized McConnell on Monday for failing to address the issue of gun control and continuing to refuse to put the background checks bill on the floor for a vote.
“I believe it would pass,” Schumer tweeted.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote a letter Monday to her Democratic colleagues saying that the House is continuing to press McConnell to pass the background checks bills and would come back from recess “if the Senate sends us back an amended bipartisan bill.”
McConnell’s statement comes after he received Twitter backlash for his initial response on Sunday to the deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. He echoed the tired and repetitive “thoughts and prayers” sentiment that Republican leaders put out after every tragedy that involves a gun. Critics slammed McConnell’s refusal to pass gun control legislation and started the hashtag #MassacreMitch, which went viral on Sunday.
McConnell’s campaign also got called out for tweeting a photo — shortly after the El Paso shooting — of mock tombstones bearing the names of former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, McConnell’s Kentucky Democratic opponent Amy McGrath and “socialism.”