House Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that he fully expects the House of Representatives to act on gun legislation in the coming months, but said he wasn't prepared to make a commitment on Senate measures that are still in flux.
"I've never been for just a blanket...commitment when I don't know what the product is," said Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican. "I fully expect that the House will act on legislation in the coming months. But I want this to go through a regular order, and I want the Judiciary Committee to take the time to look at whatever the Senate does produce, assuming they produce something, and have members on both sides review that and make their determination."
Gun-control legislation survived its first key test vote in the Senate on Thursday, signaling that a bill will come to the chamber floor. Many family members of the victims of December's school shooting rampage in Connecticut were on hand in the Senate gallery to watch the vote and have been meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of these victims. And I fully expect that the House will act in some way, shape or form," Mr. Boehner said. "But to make a blanket commitment without knowing what the underlying bill is I think would be irresponsible on my part."
Mr. Boehner added that he thinks that before Congress starts to add more rules and regulations affecting law-abiding citizens, the current laws on the books need to be more vigorously enforced.
Asked if he would violate the so-called "Hastert rule" on legislation dealing with guns, immigration, or fiscal matters, Mr. Boehner said his intention is always to pass bills with robust GOP support. The unofficial rule, named after former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, says that a Speaker will not bring a bill forward for a vote unless it has majority support of the majority party in the House.
Mr. Boehner, however, has recently allowed the House to pass measures — relief for Superstorm Sandy, the year-end "fiscal cliff" deal, and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act — that were not supported by a majority of House Republicans.
"Listen, it was never a rule to begin with," Mr. Boehner said. "And certainly my prerogative or my intention is to always pass bills with strong Republican support."
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