AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
President Donald Trump is expected to be briefed on the outlines of various gun control proposals at the White House tomorrow, and could make a public announcement, either in person or on his Twitter feed soon after, according to unnamed White House officials who spoke to NBC News.
Trump was to be given summaries of the various ideas endorsed by members of Congress and White House aides, but he won’t be immersed in any specific legislative language, the official said.
The president, who spoke Thursday with senators advocating for stricter background checks, said after that meeting that he was working with them to “come up with something that is acceptable to everybody,” and that there would be additional meetings Wednesday and Thursday.
“So we’re looking at background checks and we are looking at putting everything together in a unified way so that we can have something that’s meaningful at the same time,” the president said.
Trump is far more likely to come up with something that is acceptable to almost no one than he is to come up with something acceptable to everyone when it comes to background checks. A bill that expands background checks to private sales, as some senators are pushing, will not fly with 2nd Amendment activists, and if it’s anything less than “universal background checks” it will be seen as just a first step towards that ultimate goal by gun control activists.
A bill that expands the records submitted to NICS, on the other hand, won’t satisfy gun control advocates at all, though it may mollify 2nd Amendment supporters. President Trump is going to have to choose a dance partner here soon, and while gun owners are hoping he dances with the one who brought him to the White House, he seems to be giving the gun control supporters a lot of attention at the moment.
President Donald Trump spoke for 40 minutes with three leading senators Wednesday about expanding background checks, keeping alive the Senate’s long-running gun negotiations with the White House for at least one more day.
Trump is expected to be briefed on Thursday by White House officials on his options, according to two GOP officials familiar with the matter. And Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said that Trump could signal to the Hill what package he could support as soon as Thursday.
While Manchin and Murphy both sounded optimistic, Toomey seemed a bit more circumspect in his remarks to reporters.
But Toomey, who is lobbying skeptical members of his own party to support a new version of legislation he wrote with Manchin in 2013, was more cautious on both the timeline and the president’s stance. Trump said Wednesday that they are “going to take a look at a lot of different things.”
“He did not make a commitment to support any particular bill or any particular thing but he did strongly convey an interest in doing something meaningful,” Toomey said. “There was a discussion about having a step forward one way or another tomorrow but that’s not carved in stone.”
Senator Murphy, meanwhile, is trying to sell the Manchin-Toomey proposal as a compromise, which it is not. A compromise generally entails both sides giving a little, but Murphy and supporters of universal background checks aren’t giving up anything. In fact, if the president comes out in support of Manchin-Toomey, anti-gun activists will get a huge boost, and virtually every Democrat running for president will immediately declare Trump didn’t go far enough and they need to be elected to finish the job.
“If this is a compromise, it’s going to be a compromise. It’s going to have some Republican ‘no’ votes and some Democratic ‘no’ votes,” Murphy said. “If I end up agreeing to something that’s not … universal background checks, that’s going to be a heavy lift on the democratic side.”
He’s lying, of course. Democrats might complain about the Senate not passing HR8, the universal background check bill, but there’s no way they would block a major expansion of the existing background check laws. It wouldn’t be the touchdown they want, but it’d be a solid 30-yard gain (in unrelated news, I’m really glad it’s football season again). A half-measure gun control bill is still a gun control bill, and the anti-gun crowd would be elated to see the president sign Manchin-Toomey. The millions of gun owners who voted for him in 2016? Not so much.