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Pelosi knocks 'Moscow Mitch' for blocking gun, election interference bills

Democrats have been ramping up pressure on McConnell to take up gun control legislation in the wake of recent mass shootings.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a press conference in Washington on July 24, 2019.Andrew Cabarello-Reynolds / AFP - Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday slammed "Moscow Mitch" — a derisive nickname for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — for blocking bills aimed at preventing gun violence and foreign election interference.

"We all want to invest in building our democracy and saving it from any enemies foreign and domestic, so we've sent our legislation to the Senate," Pelosi said at an Illinois Democrats’ “Democrat Day” event in Springfield. "'Moscow Mitch' says that he is the 'Grim Reaper" ... that he's going to bury all this legislation. Well, we have news for him. All this legislation is alive and well in the general public."

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has been sharply criticized in recent weeks after he blocked two election security bills that Democrats put forward after former special counsel Robert Mueller's congressional testimony on Russian election interference.

Mueller warned that Russia was already preparing to interfere in the 2020 election "as we sit here," calling the Kremlin's efforts "the new normal."

Critics of McConnell have been using the nickname "Moscow Mitch" to suggest that he is giving cover to Russian President Vladimir Putin. McConnell has expressed anger about the nickname, comparing the attacks to "modern-day McCarthyism."

McConnell has also drawn criticism from Democrats for blocking the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which would create new background check requirements for gun transfers between unlicensed individuals. It passed the Democrat-controlled House in February, 240-190.

Pelosi's call to action comes as Democrats ramp up pressure on the Senate to pass a universal background check bill after two shootings this month in Dayton, Ohio, and in El Paso, Texas, left at least 29 dead and more than 50 injured in a matter of just 13 hours. The Senate is currently in recess until September. McConnell, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, has not signaled that he intends to end the break.

"We must pass gun violence prevention legislation," Pelosi, a California Democrat, said. "Every day we lose lives."