September 10, 2019 / 11:04 PM / 10 days ago

No. 2 U.S. House Republican unsure if Trump, lawmakers can reach agreement on gun bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The second-ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Tuesday he was not sure whether President Donald Trump would be able to come to any agreement with lawmakers on new gun control legislation.

FILE PHOTO: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise speaks at a news conference following leadership elections on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

“Whether or not the president submits a formal proposal, he has been having good-faith negotiations and conversations with a number of senators from both parties,” Representative Steve Scalise told reporters after a meeting at the White House.

“I’m not sure ... ultimately if they’re going to get an agreement, but they are having some good-faith negotiations.”

Scalise, a gun violence victim himself, was one of four Senate and House Republican leaders who met with Trump, Attorney General William Barr and other White House officials at the afternoon meeting.

Following the meeting, Scalise rejected a Democratic bill passed by the House last February to tighten gun sale background checks. “We’re not going there,” he said when asked by a reporter what legislation Trump might support.

Democrats have been pressuring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring that bill up for a vote in the Senate, which he has so far refused, citing White House opposition.

It was not clear from Scalise’s remarks whether the White House is now focused on developing some sort of gun control legislation or instead taking administrative actions to tighten enforcement.

“Making the current system work better while protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens. That’s where the focus needs to be,” Scalise said. He accused Democrats of trying to make it harder for such citizens to buy guns.

Two years ago, Scalise was seriously wounded by a gunman in a Washington, D.C. suburb while he was at a practice for a congressional baseball game.

The push for new gun control legislation follows a spate of mass murders by gunmen in Texas and Ohio last month.

Reporting by Richard Cowan; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Chris Reese and Lincoln Feast.

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