Beginning a week of high pressure on gun control, the White House on Monday accused some Republican senators of cowardice for planning to filibuster gun legislation without allowing the full Senate to vote on President Obama’s initiatives.
“If they oppose this legislation, have the courage to say so on the floor and vote no,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. “Don’t block it. Don’t hide behind a procedural action to prevent a vote. That’s the wrong thing to do, and that’s how the president clearly feels.”
He didn’t name names, but Mr. Carney said when Mr. Obama announced his gun-control proposals in his State of the Union address in February, members of both parties stood and applauded “when the cameras were on.”
“They ought to fulfill the message they sent by applauding by allowing a vote on every one of these issues,” Mr. Carney said. He urged GOP senators “not to take the less courageous route by using procedural measures to block a vote.”
Sens. Patrick J. Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican and Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, are working on an agreement to allow expanded background checks on gun purchases. If that effort fails, the president’s gun legislation is likely headed toward a filibuster led by some conservative senators.
Over the weekend, Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, warned against the idea of a filibuster, which has been floated by Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and others.
“The purpose of the United States Senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand,” Mr. McCain said. “What are we afraid of?”
Mr. Obama will speak about gun-control later Monday in Connecticut, not far from the site of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre. After the president’s speech, the White House is flying 11 family members of the victims back to Washington on Air Force One Monday evening to lobby members of Congress this week.
“I think those family members who have felt the pain of the Sandy Hook tragedy most keenly are important voices in this discussion,” Mr. Carney said. He said it’s important for lawmakers to hear from the victims’ families “about how their lives had been torn apart and turned upside down by the loss of their child.”
“That message is very powerful,” he said.