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Senate Republicans indicate willingness to pass a gun bill, but will Trump sign it?

After a series of shooting massacres over the summer and renewed calls for stricter gun regulation, Senate Republicans have indicated some willingness to consider new legislation. But according to Sen. Mitch McConnell, President Trump has not yet weighed in on what type of proposal he would support, leaving the congressional GOP feeling pressure without a plan. Lisa Desjardins joins Amna Nawaz.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Now, White House officials have been meeting with Republicans in Congress about a potential plan for a gun bill.

    While President Trump hasn't weighed in on what sort of proposal he would back, Republican senators are feeling pressure to take some action on the issue.

    To help us understand where things stand, I'm joined by our own Lisa Desjardins.

    Lisa, talk is one thing, action is another.

    When it comes to actual legislation, where are things in Washington?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    It's actually been a very active week, but there's nothing to show for it, Amna.

    Let's talk about what really the headline is this week. Two big players from the White House got involved and showed up on Capitol Hill for many meetings. Attorney General Bill Barr and White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland were on the Hill meeting with key senators here.

    Let's look at some of the key Senate players, both Republicans and Democrats, they have been talking with.

    Pat Toomey, he's known for his work on this issue. Now, Josh Hawley is an interesting conservative. I don't know how deeply he's involved. But he's one of those conservatives that Republican — the Republican White House wants on board, because they want their base on board something.

    Now, then, of course, we have Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, both known for their work on gun control — or gun violence.

    Now, it's interesting, because this represents a spectrum, conservative, moderate, in both parties. Behind the scenes, I'm told that these senators think that they could get to an answer, that they could come up with something that's agreeable.

    The problem is, the president has not said what he wants to do.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    So I mean, with all this talk, it sounds like Congress wants to do something. And the obvious question then is, what is keeping them from doing it? Is it just the president?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    It is. It is the president.

    Now, I know a lot of people will point to the fact that Senator Mitch McConnell, who leads the Senate, has not brought up a vote on a House gun bill that has passed. But McConnell says, I'm waiting for the president.

    And I think he's making his case more and more clear. We're going to come back to him in a second.

    But another example, Amna, is that some White House staff floated an actual idea page, they called it, not even a plan yet, but an idea page, this week to Republican senators. Here it is.

    Notably, it was leaked to The Daily Caller, Amna. That's a conservative Web page. Why would it be leaked to them? Well, this idea was to expand universal background checks for guns, something that the NRA and some conservatives oppose.

    Some in the White House were pushing this. By putting this out on a conservative Web page before it really had any legs, it undermined it. It really essentially killed that plan.

    So what you have here is forces behind the scenes really trying to influence the president against working on universal gun background checks, or even an expansion of background checks, which is something many in the Senate are talking about.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Meanwhile, gun violence in America continues, right? Every time there's another high-profile public mass shooting, we have this conversation again and again.

    Where's the public on this? Is that pressure going to do anything?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I think you can see that that public pressure is building. And that brings us back to Senator McConnell.

    He made one of his strongest statements yet this week about where he is on this issue and what he wants to see happen. Let's listen.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:

    We need some guidance from the president about what got a proposal that would make a difference he would actually sign into law.

    I think, given the multiple horrendous shootings in August, we owe it to the American people to act.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That is the strongest statement. He said that he wants to do something. I have not heard that from him before.

    And it's no secret why, Amna. Our poll with NPR and Marist, polls from ABC, NBC all show 89, 90 percent of Americans support expanding universal background checks or going to a more universal background check.

    Here's the political thing, though, Amna. When you ask women, women also, almost two-thirds of women, want a ban on assault-style weapons. So Republicans need those female votes. They're nervous about this issue with women next year.

    And so are manufacturers, Amna. Today, Colt, one of the manufacturers of the AR-15, which is one of those semiautomatic assault-style weapons, said they're not going to sell that weapon anymore commercially. They will only provide it for military contracts. They say the supply is just — there's too much supply. There's no longer demand, that consumers have stopped buying that gun.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Lisa, with all these talks, with some of these high-profile people on the Hill continuing the talks, very briefly, is there a timeline for action?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    There's not a strict timeline. Congress will be in session this year, next year.

    But there's a political one. It's very difficult to pass any major legislation in a presidential year. And that is actually closer than many people think, Amna, because, this month, Congress is only in session for another week-and-a-half or so.

    Then they take two weeks off, three weeks in October. November is Thanksgiving. So it's really this month and next month, everyone realizes, is a critical window on this issue.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Critical window. We have got to stay on top of this.

    Our own Lisa Desjardins, thanks very much.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

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