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Not 'Helpful': Senators Want Biden to Keep Out of Gun Talks

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Biden's average approval rating is 40 percent. Voters give him even worse marks for his handling of the economy and foreign policy. And when it comes to the direction America is heading under his leadership, just 22 percent say the U.S. is headed in the right direction. It's no wonder, then, that vulnerable Democrats don't want him campaigning with them. He's not only unpopular, but on issues Democrats care about advancing, it turns out he's extremely unhelpful, too. 

That's why senators are eager to keep him out of gun talks. 

Some have said that President Biden’s involvement wouldn’t be “helpful” after he called on Congress to pass gun control measures, some of which aren’t even supported by all 50 Democrats.

The White House spent much of last week going back and forth about how much involvement, if any, the administration would have in the talks, eventually settling on messaging that the president would give Congress space to negotiate. 

Then an about-face came on Thursday when Biden gave a prime-time speech calling on Congress to pass a host of measures that lawmakers say are not part of the negotiations, resulting in some head-scratching over the direction the White House was heading on the matter.

Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.), the lead Democratic negotiator on gun violence talks, indicated that although he has been in communication with the White House about the negotiations, even Democrats on Capitol Hill think discussions have a better chance of bearing fruit without the involvement of the president or his team. (The Hill)

Murphy was clear during an interview with CNN that the Senate must act alone.

"I have talked to the White House every single day since these negotiations began. But right now, the Senate needs to handle these negotiations," he said. 

Sen. Pat Toomey, meanwhile, was critical of Biden's gun control speech for "not being very helpful." Biden, the Pennsylvania Republican argued, "advocated policies that he knows for sure have no chance of passing the Senate — probably couldn't even get 50 votes and hold the Democrats, much less get the 60 we would need."

John LaBombard, former communications director to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), told The Hill that Biden's gun control speech in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, completely failed to consider the reality Democrats are dealing with in the Senate. 

"When legislating, we need to start by recognizing the reality of vote margins, and some of President Biden's proposed solutions have no chance of earning the necessary support in a 50-50 split Senate," said LaBombard. "The senators engaged in these negotiations know better than anyone else what's realistically possible — and they have much more credibility than the White House does with the Republican Senators we'll need if a deal is reached." 

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