Mitch McConnell ignores calls from Democratic lawmakers to end Senate recess for gun control vote

McConnell released a statement on President Donald Trump's calls for stronger background checks that did not use the word "gun."
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves the Senate floor following a vote April 3, 2019.Zach Gibson / Getty Images

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By Dareh Gregorian

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that Republicans are prepared "to work in a bipartisan, bicameral way to address the recent mass murders which have shaken our nation," but his statement made no mention of any timeline to do so — and it didn't mention the word "guns."

Democrats have called on McConnell to call the Senate back in session to take up legislation to tighten background checks in the wake of the mass shootings over the weekend that left at least 31 people dead in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The House in February passed two background check bills but the Senate, which is on a break until September, has not taken action on them.

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President Donald Trump tweeted Monday morning that "Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks."

McConnell issued a statement later in the day that said "Senate Republicans are prepared to do our part," but also indicated they were in no rush.

He said he'd spoken to the heads of three different Senate committees and "asked them to reflect on the subjects the president raised within their jurisdictions and encouraged them to engage in bipartisan discussions of potential solutions to help protect our communities without infringing on Americans’ constitutional rights."

"Only serious, bipartisan, bicameral efforts will enable us to continue this important work and produce further legislation that can pass the Senate, pass the House, and earn the president’s signature," he said in what appeared to be a swipe at the two House bills.

He also took a veiled shot at Democratic presidential candidates who've been calling him out for stalling earlier legislation.

"Partisan theatrics and campaign-trail rhetoric will only take us farther away from the progress all Americans deserve,” said McConnell, who's recuperating from a fractured shoulder.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer hit back at McConnell's statement, saying, "There are three important letters missing from this statement from @SenateMajLdr McConnell about these awful shootings: g-u-n."

Frank Thorp V contributed.