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Bipartisan Senate gun bill gets icy reception from House Republicans

The bipartisan Senate gun bill cleared a procedural vote Tuesday with support from more than a quarter of Senate Republicans, including top party leaders. But by Wednesday it was clear it wouldn’t get the same reception from House Republicans.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., announced he would formally whip against it. House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said the bill “shreds the Constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans with no effect on deterring criminals.” And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will oppose the bill, his office confirmed. 

“In an effort to slowly chip away at law-abiding citizens’ 2nd Amendment rights, this legislation takes the wrong approach in attempting to curb violent crimes,” Scalise said in a whip notice Wednesday. 

SCALISE TO WHIP HOUSE REPUBLICANS AGAINST SENATE GUN BILL

“Since Biden’s election, Democrats have failed at every level. There’s literally only one way Republicans can lose the midterms,” Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., said in a press conference. “That’s exactly what these 14 RINOs, Republicans in name only, have done in the Senate.” 

She called the bill unconstitutional and said Republicans would try to defund it if it passes.

Officially titled the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” the senators involved in the bill released the final text of it Tuesday night after weeks of negotiations. 

SENATE VOTES TO ADVANCE BIPARTISAN GUN CONTROL LEGISLATION

The bill would provide funding for states to create programs that could keep weapons away from people who are dangers to themselves or others, often called red flag laws. It would also enhance background checks for gun buyers under 21, add penalties for some gun criminals and provide funding for a variety of health and mental health-related programs. 

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., led a press conference Wednesday attacking Republicans who are supporting the bipartisan Senate gun bill. 

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the top GOP negotiator on the bill, has emphasized that it “will not infringe on any law-abiding American’s Second Amendment rights.” And Senate Republicans who support the bill are also highlighting what they say are negotiating wins, including that the bill doesn’t expand background checks and will include due process requirements for red flag laws. 

But multiple House GOP sources said the bill is unlikely to get broad support in the current political environment. 

GUN BILL DETAILS AGREED TO BY BIPARTISAN GROUP OF FOUR KEY SENATE NEGOTIATORS

One GOP aide said there’s a good chance the gun bill gets even less House Republican support than the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which garnered 13 GOP votes. The aide said that because red flag laws are so “demonized” among conservatives, it will be very hard for most Republicans to vote for the bill.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, arrives to meet with Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., arrive for more bipartisan talks on how to rein in gun violence, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. The bill is set to pass the Senate this week. 

But at least some are expected to, including Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, who announced Tuesday that he will vote for it.

“My name is Tony Gonzales and I am a survivor of domestic abuse, my stepfather would come home drunk & beat on me and my mother,” Gonzales said on Twitter. “One night he decided that wasn’t enough and shoved a shotgun in my mother’s mouth. I was 5 at the time and not strong enough to fend off the wolves.”

Gonzales added: “As a Congressman it’s my duty to pass laws that never infringe on the Constitution while protecting the lives of the innocent. In the coming days I look forward to voting YES on the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.”

Fox News is told the floor is five to six GOP yeas. But that number could grow as high as 15-17 GOP yeas.

Either way, that will not come to nearly as high a percentage of the Senate Republicans who are expected to vote “yea” on final passage for the bipartisan gun bill later this week. 

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Aishah Hasnie contributed to this report. 

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