We Now Know What's Delaying the Gun Control Bill

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Posted: Jun 21, 2022 2:30 PM
We Now Know What's Delaying the Gun Control Bill

Source: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

It was looking as if the text of the gun control bill in the U.S. Senate might come on Monday, but Monday came and went with no such text, putting a damper on the timeline before the Independence Day recess. The hold up is reportedly due to Hyde Amendment type language, POLITICO reported on Tuesday morning.

As the report acknowledges, the issue over Hyde puts two particularly divisive issues together in one bill:

What’s the holdup? A GOP source familiar with the long weekend’s talks tells us that the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, has come into play in the discussions over the bill’s health care provisions. That means that two of the most divisive and visceral political issues in the country – guns and abortion – could be paired together.

ABC News, which also covered the delay on Tuesday, explains more about the involvement of Hyde:

Negotiators working to turn the agreed-upon legislative framework into draft text are now focusing on the Hyde Amendment, which forbids federal funding from being used to pay for abortions. That provision has gotten caught up in the portion of the possible gun law dealing with mental health funding, with Republicans pushing for language barring any money in an ultimate agreement from being used pay for abortions, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The Hyde Amendment has been a serious point of contention for Republicans who have insisted on keeping it in place as a compromise on abortion and to retain the status quo. Hyde has passed with bipartisan support  since 1976, though the Democratic Party has become much more aggressive in seeking to get rid of it, despite having historically supported it previously. This includes President Joe Biden, though he has vigorously sought to get rid of it with his budget proposals. Polls consistently show that a majority of Americans are in favor of keeping Hyde.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the lead Republican negotiator on the gun control legislation, spoke to ABC News, with the report noting he's appeared optimistic and said the text will come "hopefully shortly." 

"It's a complicated bill and it's been a tough negotiation," Cornyn is quoted as saying. 

Sen. Cornyn also spoke with Reuters, and when asked about if the impasse had been settled, said "Yes. I believe so. Hyde applies."

Last weekend, Sen. Cornyn was booed at the Texas GOP convention for his role in the gun control talks. As Spencer noted in his coverage of Cornyn's appearance at the convention, the Republican Party of Texas’ Platform Committee unanimously passed a resolution last Thursday condemning the framework. "They also issued a rebuke to the Republican senators who sat at the negotiating table with Democrats and continue to cooperate with the plan to finalize legislation that is likely to restrict the Second Amendment and due process rights of law-abiding firearm owners," Spencer wrote. 

If the bill's text is not revealed on Tuesday, that could prove to be a complication for a timeline of getting the bill voted on before the Independence Day recess. 

As POLITICO also noted:

Recess reality: If the Senate moves forward procedurally this afternoon, that could still set up final passage by the end of the week. (Theoretically, the process could bleed into the weekend absent cooperation from all 100 senators, but the Senate is also scheduled to leave at the end of the week for a two-week recess.)

If there is no legislative language today, the goal of passing the bill before the Independence Day recess could be out of reach. As legislative action gets pushed back again and again , negotiators risk losing the momentum and political will that brought them together in the first place immediately after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas and a racist mass shooter opened fire and killed ten people at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.

The Republican senators who have signed onto negotiations and who have come out in support of such legislation fear having to hear from constituents who won't take kindly to the gun control legislation.