House Republican and Democratic leaders are exploring whether there’s any common ground to address growing gun violence in the country, prompted by this week’s shootings of African-American men by police officers and Thursday night’s killings of five officers in Dallas.
But even as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told two reporters he is talking with his counterpart, No. 2 House Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, he remained vague about policy proposals that the two parties can agree on or whether the House would actually draft legislation.
Still, McCarthy insisted, “Whatever we end up doing is going to be bipartisan.”
The two planned to have another conversation Saturday after they sound out their colleagues on both sides of the aisle about next steps. Separately, House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke with Louisiana Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond, who represents part of Baton Rouge, where the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling took place earlier this week.
“I’m not pre-determining what it is,” McCarthy said, referring to legislative answers. “I just think what has gone on in the nation this week — this is a time, not only to pause for the prayers, but it’s a time this country should unite and solve the problems out there, make sure justice is done, and so that’s in the mode of what we are doing at this moment.”
This effort to build a bipartisan group is on a separate track from talks about a Republican gun measure. House conservatives have opposed that bill, arguing it infringed on Second Amendment rights, so Ryan and other leaders had to delay any action on it after initially planning a vote this week. And House Democrats continue to insist they want votes on a bill to expand background checks for private gun sales and on a measure to ban guns to those on a terror watch list.
McCarthy also mentioned that he has been talking to Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Washington, a former sheriff who was advocating that there be additional focus on an existing grant program for local police departments.
The California Republican said he spoke to Ryan and “we want to do something next week.”