The Senate is set to vote on a bill to require universal background checks for gun purchases as soon as Thursday, but Republican House Speaker John Boehner refused to say Wednesday morning whether he would bring that bill up to the House.
“As I’ve made clear, any bill that passes the Senate, we’re going to review it,” Boehner told reporters shortly before the details of the Senate bill were announced by Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. “In the meantime we’re going to continue to have hearings looking at the source of violence in our country. We’re going to wait and see what actually passes over in the Senate.”
Boehner, who stood up during the State of the Union address earlier this year as President Obama said the families of the Newtown shooting tragedy “deserve a vote” on gun control, refused to respond to multiple inquiries about whether or not he will let the House vote on the proposal, should it pass the Senate. When asked if the House might use a so-called “pocket veto” to block the bill, he simply repeated “the House will review it.”
Refusing to address the new legislation, he instead focused on his concern that the current background check system isn’t not being properly enforced.
“That’s what I was suggesting,” he said. “We’re not enforcing the laws that we have on the books today, and so if we’re going to have a background check that’s in the law, let’s make sure we do a real background check, which in not all cases actually happens.”
Only a handful of House Republicans have voiced support for background checks so far, with Republican Peter King of New York planning to introduce his own bipartisan deal, crafted with the help of California Democrat Mike Thompson. King has already criticized senators in his party who have threatened to filibuster that gun legislation, but on Wednesday, he and Thompson said the Senate gun deal was “a big step forward” on expanding the nation’s background check system.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on a gun bill Thursday.