WASHINGTON– Democratic lawmakers will need to work hard to safeguard President Barack Obama’s executive actions on gun violence, a member of left leaning think-tank said Tuesday.
“What the president did was quite remarkable,” said Chelsea Parsons, vice president for guns and criminal policy at the Center for American Progress. But, she told Democratic legislators, you have a lot to do actually, in terms of protecting them”
Parsons remarks came during a roundtable discussion hosted by Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., featuring gun safety groups, including Everytown for Gun Safety.
The executive actions tighten the so-called gun show loophole but also aim to increase resources for gun-purchase background checks and mental health care. Parsons warned that these funding requests would have to overcome the scrutiny of Republican critics in Congress.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she was confident her caucus will be able to protect the executive actions.
“Our strength is the president’s signature to veto any of those attempts and the unity of our caucus to sustain the veto,” Pelosi said afterward. “But I would hope they (Republicans) wouldn’t go down this path because what the president’s proposing has the support of the American people.”
Specifically, Pelosi was hopeful that increased funding for the background check system would win approval in the House.
In addition to the possibility of blocking funding, Parsons said she is also concerned about any legislative action that would make it more difficult for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms to enforce the law.
“The appropriations process has often served as a place where … successful efforts have been made to undermine ATF’s ability to function,” Parsons, a former New York state assistant attorney general, said. “ATF’s current budget is already saddled with more than a dozen restrictive policy riders that really limit what the agency is allowed to do.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has argued against the executive orders, urging the president to enforce the laws that already exist. In a statement released after the orders were announced, Ryan called them a distraction and vowed to, “conduct vigilant oversight.”
However, Ryan wasn’t specific about how Congress might respond.
“Ultimately, everything the president has done can be overturned by a Republican president,” the Ryan statement said. “Which is another reason we must win in November.”