Since January when the current Congress was sworn in, the House of Representatives has passed and sent over to the Senate 265 pieces of legislation on issues ranging from election reform, expanding and protecting access to health care, keeping the U.S. in the Paris Climate Change Agreement, creating a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and more.
With few exceptions, and most of those confined to deadline budget bills enjoying bipartisan support, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to allow the Senate to even debate, let alone vote on those bills.
McConnell has also refused to let dozens of pieces of companion legislation, proposed by Senate Democrats, come to a vote in the Senate.
On the Senate floor Wednesday, Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto called out McConnell on one of those bills specifically. The Background Check Expansion Act would close the loophole allowing private sales of firearms without background checks.
The House passed similar legislation in March.
“Americans support these laws virtually unanimously—97 percent of them want sellers to look closely at who exactly is trying to buy a gun,” Cortez Masto said, presumably referring to a February 2018 Quinnipiac poll. That poll found overwhelming support for universal background checks among gun owners and non-gun owners alike.
“Yet the Background Check Expansion Act to close loopholes on background checks hasn’t received a vote in this chamber,” Cortez Masto said, according to a text of her remarks as prepared for delivery. “Neither have dozens of other vital pieces of legislation that would make us safer.”
McConnell “has jokingly called himself the ‘Grim Reaper’ whose job is to bury legislation,” Cortez Masto said. “But the American people don’t find it funny.”
Cortez Masto noted Nevada voters approved background checks on private gun sales in 2016. Former Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt thwarted the will of the voters, but Democratic legislators and a Democratic governor enacted the background checks earlier this year.
“Nevada, with a strong Western history of self-reliance and a culture of safe, responsible gun ownership, has done this,” she said.
“It’s long past time for the Senate to do what the House has done—and what the American people demand—and pass commonsense gun reform.”
Meanwhile, far from running away from Democratic criticism that the Senate under McConnell is a “legislative graveyard,” the Majority Leader recently told a Fox News personality that “I am indeed the Grim Reaper.”