House Republicans have vowed to oppose the bipartisan gun-control bill that was sanctioned by Senate GOP leaders who lined up the needed support for it to pass in the upper chamber as soon as Thursday.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP Whip Steve Scalise are actively whipping members of their conference to vote no on the bill. The duo is maneuvering not necessarily to defeat the bill, but rather to show unwavering resolve within the House GOP against gun control.
Mr. Scalise, Louisiana Republican, told The Washington Times that they were whipping against the bill.
“Obviously, Nancy Pelosi is the speaker so she has the majority,” he said. “But we’re pushing for reforms in the mental health system [and] we shouldn’t be taking away or infringing upon the rights of law-abiding citizens to own a gun.”
He gave this prediction: “You’ll see most Republicans voting no.”
Former President Donald Trump, who still has a powerful hold on the GOP, also urged House Republicans to vote against the new gun laws. He said in a statement that it was a first step “in the movement to TAKE YOUR GUNS AWAY.”
Mr. Trump said the bill was created by “Radical Left Democrats” and pushed through with the help of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and “RINO Senator John Cornyn Of Texas.”
The legislation, which would be the first major new federal gun laws in decades, nevertheless is expected to garner support from some House Republicans.
Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Texas Republican representing a swing district, announced his support for the bill. Mr. Gonzalez, who represents the community of Uvalde where a mass shooting last month killed 19 children and two teachers, said the decision was highly personal.
“I am a survivor of domestic abuse, my stepfather would come home drunk and beat on me and my mother,” he wrote on social media. “School was my sanctuary from the chaos at home. … As a congressman it’s my duty to pass laws that never infringe on the Constitution while protecting the lives of the innocent.”
As many as 15 House Republicans could back the bill based on recent votes on much stricter gun laws that passed the lower chamber but died in the Senate.
This month 10 House Republicans, not including Mr. Gonzales, backed a bill to raise the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21. At the same time, five House GOP lawmakers voted for an ambitious national “red flag” law that would allow a judge to bar people deemed dangerous to buy guns.
House Democrats are not counting on GOP votes, however. Democrats expect to have the votes to pass it on their own.
In pledging to hold a vote on the bill earlier this week, Mrs. Pelosi was quick to note that the bill incorporates priorities Democrats have long championed.
“Communities across the country will benefit from House Democrats’ proposals included in this package, which will help keep deadly weapons out of dangerous hands by encouraging states to establish extreme risk protection order laws and by putting an end to straw purchases,” said the California Democrat.
The Senate is moving the legislation forward quickly, eyeing to pass it Thursday, sending it to the House for a final vote before Congress leaves Friday for a two-week recess.
In a 64-34 vote, the Senate voted to begin debate on the ambitious rewrite of the nation’s firearm laws. With 14 Republicans led by Mr. McConnell voted in favor, the bill has the necessary support to pass the chamber.
The bill would boosts funding for school security and mental health treatment. It also tightens the background check system for gun purchases by including domestic violence and juvenile records.
The proposal also creates a new block grant program to subsidize states that adopt red flag laws, which allow courts to confiscate firearms from individuals deemed a threat, or set up other crisis intervention programs.
“Our colleagues have put together a common-sense package of popular steps that will help make [mass shooting] incidents less likely, while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican.