White House Gun Proposals Expected This Week

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  January 15, 2013 at 9:22 AM EDT

Gun control protest; photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Demonstrators protest in front of the White House last week demanding for more gun control. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

President Obama is set to receive Tuesday a list of recommendations from Vice President Biden detailing possible ways to reduce gun violence and within days is expected to go public with a comprehensive plan that contains legislative elements as well as executive action.

“I’m confident that there are some steps that we can take that don’t require legislation and that are within my authority as President,” Mr. Obama said Monday during a news conference at the White House. “And where you get a step that has the opportunity to reduce the possibility of gun violence then I want to go ahead and take it.”

Michael Shear and Jennifer Steinhauer report in the New York Times on the full range of options Mr. Obama is considering:

Lawmakers and other officials said that the president could use a public event as soon as Wednesday to signal his intention to engage in the biggest Congressional fight over guns in nearly two decades, focusing on the heightened background checks and including efforts to ban assault weapons and their high-capacity clips. But given the difficulty of pushing new rules through a bitterly divided Congress, Mr. Obama will also promise to act on his own to reduce gun violence wherever possible.

Actions the president could take on his own are likely to include imposing new limits on guns imported from overseas, compelling federal agencies to improve sharing of mental health records and directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on gun violence, according to those briefed on the effort.

White House aides believe Mr. Obama can also ratchet up enforcement of existing laws, including tougher prosecution of people who lie on their background checks.

During Monday’s session with reporters, Mr. Obama said he was unsure if all the proposals could clear the House and Senate, but he vowed to press ahead with measures he believes will make a difference.

“Will all of them get through this Congress? I don’t know. But what’s uppermost in my mind is making sure that I’m honest with the American people and with members of Congress about what I think will work,” Mr. Obama said. “If there is a step we can take that will save even one child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step.”

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Monday found most Americans were supportive of tougher gun control measures following the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month that killed 26 people, including 20 children.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they would favor a nationwide ban on assault weapons, and 51 percent said they would support a ban on semi-automatic handguns. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they backed a nationwide ban on high-capacity magazines that contain 10 or more bullets.

A new Pew Research Center survey on the issue found 85 percent of Americans favor making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks, with comparable support from Republicans, Democrats and independents.

But the consensus ends there, with Democrats widely supporting and Republicans opposing measures to track gun sales using a federal database. The poll also found 64 percent in favor of putting armed security guards and police in more schools.

The NewsHour looked at the challenges ahead in Mr. Obama’s second term following his feisty news conference.

Watch the segment here or below:


You can watch the news conference in full here or below:


FUNDING A SECOND TERM SOIREE

On Monday night the NewsHour began its look at Mr. Obama’s inauguration. With 1 million fewer people expected and a warmer forecast than 2009, what can Americans expect from next week’s events? And why did Mr. Obama change his fundraising strategy for the festivities?

Judy Woodruff talked with Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times and Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press to find out more, especially on the funding and fundraising for the celebration.

Watch here or below:


Here is the NewsHour’s guide to official inauguration goings-on.

LINE ITEMS

  • The House of Representatives is expected to vote Tuesday on a measure to provide an additional $50 billion in disaster aid for parts of the country impacted by super-storm Sandy.

  • At a Monday news conference, New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie slammed Republican members of Congress for insisting on spending cuts as part of a package of disaster relief. “If they want to pick new rules about disasters, well, they picked wrong state to make new rules with,” Christie said.

  • Roll Call’s Daniel Newhauser learns that House Republican leaders are considering a four-year debt limit increase that “would take the issue off the table” for the remainder of the Obama presidency.

  • Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner sent a letter to Congress on Monday warning that the country would reach the debt ceiling between mid-February and early March. The deadline coincides with tax filing season, which complicates the prediction and makes an on-time resolution from Congress even more pressing. “Congress should act as early as possible to extend normal borrowing authority in order to avoid the risk of default and any interruption in payments,” he wrote.

  • The White House officially warned its budget will be late.

  • Former President George H.W. Bush left a Houston hospital on Monday after spending nearly two months there because of bronchitis and other ailments, the Associated Press reports.

  • Rep. Paul Ryan backs Sen. Marco Rubio’s immigration plan.

  • Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas hadn’t spoken during oral arguments for almost seven years — until Monday. During a light-hearted moment when Justice Antonin Scalia commented about the competency of lawyers who graduated from Yale University and Harvard Law School, Thomas quipped, “Well — he did not –,” according to court transcripts. The court then laughed. Marcia Coyle, a NewsHour regular and National Law Journal’s Washington bureau chief, said Thomas leaned forward, and with his deep, low voice, made a remark that sounded like “incompetent counsel” — though that differs from the official record. “It’s only interesting because he hasn’t said anything in almost seven years, but he didn’t say anything substantive,” Coyle said. Still, Thomas’ comment is notable because he has long expressed unhappiness with Yale, his alma mater, because he was admitted under an affirmative action program. Jeffrey Toobin writes more about this in the New Yorker and reports that wisecracks aside, Thomas seems to have made peace with the university. Coyle noted that Thomas has yet to break his seven-year streak of not asking questions, an anomaly among current justices, who regularly quiz attorneys before the court.

  • Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman reports there does not appear to be any love lost between Idaho’s two House GOP members, with Rep. Mike Simpson ripping Rep. Raul Labrador as “irresponsible” for attempting to oust John Boehner as House speaker.

  • Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wants John Brennan, the nominee to head the CIA, to explain the policy for the killing of American citizens by unmanned drones, reports Wired’s Spencer Ackerman.

  • Sunlight Foundation rounds up the inaugural parties.

  • Not many Washington, D.C., residents will get to attend the inauguration.

  • In addition to parade floats representing the birthplaces of Mr. Obama and Biden, the inaugural parade will feature floats honoring the country’s civil rights movement. In this video from the inaugural committee, Fred Strickland of Hargrove Inc. gives a behind-the-scenes look at how the Lanham, Md.-based company constructs the parade floats.

  • The Washington Post finds people who still believe the president is illegitimate.

  • Jenny Sanford won’t run for Congress in South Carolina after all. Her ex-husband Mark Sanford is still considering it.

  • Tareq Salahi, of White House-state-dinner-crasher fame, [switches](http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/va-politics/salahi-announces-independent-run-for-va-governor/2013/01/14/27370e0e-5e7a-11e2-a389-ee565c81c565_story.html
    ) his Virginia gubernatorial bid to run as an independent. He would have been the sole challenger to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for the Republican nomination.

  • Republican Gov. Jan Brewer says Arizona will take federal funding to expand Medicaid within the state, a decision at odds with other similarly conservative governors.

  • Time’s Jay Newton-Small details how New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez is likely to be Sen. John Kerry’s successor as Foreign Relations Committee chairman.

  • Former Republican presidential candidate and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman sat down with Buzzfeed Monday. The story’s headline: He “can’t stop talking about the Republic.”

  • Malik Obama, half-brother to the president, is running for office in a county in Kenya, Bloomberg News reports.

  • The Texas Tribune asked the 180 members of the state legislature to share their tax returns for publication. Two did. The investigative journalism site also has compiled an interactive for readers to explore state lawmakers’ financial ties.

  • MoveOn.org veteran Ilyse Hogue is the new president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

  • Harry McCracken of Time found two polaroids of former President John F. Kennedy at an antique mall in Oregon.

  • Five months before the annual press-vs.-female members of Congress softball game, the trash talking is in full force.

  • Slate’s John Dickerson pens a beautiful essay about reconnecting with his kids after a year on the campaign trail.

  • Tuesday’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA is about Washington’s influence industry. It turns out there were 23 registered lobbyists for every member of Congress in 2011.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

  • Christina will participate in a Frontline chat tied to Tuesday’s premiere of “Inside Obama’s Presidency,” joining James Fallows, Michael Grunwald, Heidi Moore and Peter Baker. Check it out here.

  • Correspondent Spencer Michels interviewed California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. Watch that on Tuesday’s NewsHour.

  • We reported on the legacy of Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz.

  • NewsHour is launching a series highlighting science and math teachers who are using innovative teaching methods in the classroom. Do you know a teacher who inspires students? Cast your nomination here.

TOP TWEETS

Katelyn Polantz, James Hercher and Cassie M. Chew contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.