Democrats pressure Mitch McConnell to cancel Senate recess for gun control vote

A bipartisan gun bill passed the Democrat-controlled House in February.

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By Dartunorro Clark

A growing number of Democrats are calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to cancel the chamber's August recess so that they can take up gun control legislation in the wake of two mass shootings this weekend.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on the Republican leader to end the chamber's break to vote on a universal background check bill after the two shootings — one in Dayton, Ohio, and another in El Paso, Texas — left at least 29 dead and 53 injured in a matter of just 13 hours. The Senate is currently in recess until September.

“One awful event after another. Leader McConnell must call the Senate back for an emergency session to put the House-passed universal background checks legislation on the Senate floor for debate and a vote immediately," Schumer said in a statement.

The bill Schumer is referencing, H.R.8 or the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, would create new background check requirements for gun transfers between unlicensed individuals. It passed the Democrat-controlled House in February 240-190, with two members not voting.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is running as a Democrat in the 2020 election, also called on McConnell to bring the Senate back into session.

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"Mitch McConnell should bring the Senate back into session immediately to pass HR 8, the gun safety bill that has already passed the House. That's a first step to addressing our serious gun violence epidemic," Sanders tweeted.

"I hope very much that Mitch McConnell will have the courage to bring us back to Washington and put together legislation which has the wide support of the American people," he told CNN on Sunday. "This is not radical stuff."

Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, made the same plea in a tweet on Sunday.

"Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We must act. Mitch McConnell please call the Senate back to work tomorrow and let us vote on gun-safety laws," he tweeted. He also told CBS' "Face The Nation" that "the president needs to sign this bill."

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., also pressed McConnell to bring the bill to a vote.

"Dear @senatemajldr: The House of Representatives, on a bipartisan basis, passed common sense gun safety legislation to the Senate. You are blocking those bills from coming to a vote. Please let the entire nation know when you will allow a vote on gun safety legislation," he said in a tweet on Sunday.

Tim Scott, R-S.C., told "Face The Nation" on Sunday that he willing to come back to the Senate to work on gun safety measures.

"I'd do it tonight, I'd leave tonight, I'll go tomorrow. It doesn't matter to me, this is such an important issue and an issue that we sometimes only get part of the picture because of the mass shootings," he said.

Over the weekend, McConnell responded to both deadly shootings in a pair of tweets, calling them "two horrifying acts of violence."

"We stand with law enforcement as they continue working to keep Americans safe and bring justice," he said but did not signal that he was willing to cancel the Senate's recess.

“If we have anything to pass along, we will," McConnell spokesman David Popp told NBC News when asked if there were any plans to come back into session during the five-week August recess.

A spokesman for McConnell told NBC News that the lawmaker had fractured his shoulder in a fall at his Kentucky home on Sunday. He was released from medical treatment and working at home, a statement said.

Frank Thorp V contributed.