WASHINGTON — The White House is stepping up its public efforts to shame Republicans into allowing a vote on gun control legislation in the Senate, saying that a threatened filibuster is an affront to the families of the children who died in a school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said Sunday that members of both parties applauded during the State of the Union when the president — with the Newtown families looking on — insisted that the gun legislation deserved a vote in Congress.
“Now that the cameras are off and they are not forced to look the Newtown families in the face, now they want to make it harder and filibuster it,” Pfeiffer said on ABC’s “This Week” program. “We can’t have it. If we have a simple up-or-down vote, we can get this done.”
Obama will try to increase the pressure even more on Monday, when he travels to Connecticut to meet with the families of the school shooting and deliver a speech on the gun legislation.
Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said last week that the president would remind “members of Congress that those who have been most affected by tragic gun violence deserve a vote on the measures currently being considered.”
The finger-wagging from the administration comes as the gun legislation, including an expanded background check system, appears to be bogged down in the Senate, where several Republicans have signaled that they will demand 60 votes in order to move forward.
Gun rights advocates have been sharply critical of the president for what they say is an attempt to use the Newtown tragedy to advance a liberal gun control agenda. They argue that the background check system is broken and that its expansion would become a government gun registry that threatens the rights of law-abiding citizens to own guns.
Pfeiffer said Sunday that efforts to reach a bipartisan compromise on gun legislation continue, though lawmakers have said negotiations have stalled. If Republicans mount a filibuster, which would require 60 votes to overcome, Obama would have to get the votes of all 55 Democrats as well as five Republicans.
That could prove almost impossible, in part because several Democrats from more conservative states have already expressed doubts about the legislation. But if the gun measures fail to pass, White House officials are eager to make sure the blame falls on Republicans.
“This is a 90 percent issue, you can’t get 90 percent of Americans to agree on the weather,” Pfeiffer said.
If background checks and other gun control measures fail, he said, “It’s going to be disappointing to the American people, there is no, absolutely no, question about that. They feel very strongly about this.”
But the intensity of that emotion appears to have faded in Washington in the last several weeks as lawmakers moved closer to a vote and lobbying by the National Rifle Association and other groups intensified.
Debate on the gun legislation was expected to begin on the Senate floor this week, but that schedule may be pushed back as Obama and Democrats leading the effort search for more support in the face of the filibuster threats.MORE IN Wire NewsNEW YORK — Terence J. Full Story
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