With control of the U.S. House possibly hinging on several swing districts in New York next year, Democrats are ramping up their efforts to draw a contrast with the Republicans who now hold those seats.
This week, they focused on gun control.
On Tuesday, a group of House Democrats, including Hudson Valley Rep. Pat Ryan, announced plans to attempt an end-run around GOP leadership to force a vote on banning military-style semi-automatic guns and enhancing background checks for gun purchases.
What You Need To Know
- This week, House Democrats announced plans to attempt an end-run around GOP leadership to force a vote on gun reforms by using "discharge petitions”
- Two New York Republicans in competitive congressional districts told Spectrum News they do not plan to sign the discharge petitions. Others did not respond to a request for comment
- On Tuesday, all but one New York Republican in Congress voted in support of a resolution overturning a Biden administration rule tightening federal regulations on stabilizing braces. Rep. Marc Molinaro argued the rule "retroactively" created "felons out of law abiding citizens”
- House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries criticized those GOP lawmakers, saying, they "voted to make it easier to kill Americans and unleash carnage on children”
They introduced a legislative tool called a discharge petition. If they get a majority of House lawmakers to sign on, they can bring the bills up for consideration.
“We’re not going to stick by the old rules. We’re not going to wait for [Speaker] Kevin McCarthy, his MAGA extremist allies, who all day long lecture about public safety and crime,” Ryan said.
Democrats will need some Republicans to join them for this effort to be successful, and so they are leaning on Republicans in competitive congressional districts, including several in seats across New York that Democrats hope to flip blue next year.
In interviews, though, two of those New York Republicans, Reps. Anthony D’Esposito and Marc Molinaro, told Spectrum News they do not plan to sign the petitions.
“What we need to do is we need to focus on illegal guns. We need to focus on the rogue DAs who are not prosecuting these cases,” said D’Esposito, who represents Nassau County. He also called firearms training “super important,” and said he supports “some sort of background checks.”
Molinaro, who represents parts of the Hudson Valley, the Capital region and the Southern Tier, said he supports confronting “violence in this country in the most comprehensive and smart way.”
“That means, by the way, looking at what’s driving violence and making sure those who might act out in a violent way against themselves and others don’t have access to the weapons to do so,” he continued.
Spectrum News reached out to the other New York Republicans in competitive districts, including Reps. Mike Lawler, George Santos, Nick LaLota and Brandon Williams, to ask if they would sign the petitions. Their offices did not respond by deadline.
This discharge petition effort comes as Democrats are already blasting these same Republicans for a recent vote on a GOP-backed gun measure — a preview of their expected strategy to draw a contrast for voters heading into next year’s election.
That measure, which passed the House on Tuesday, would overturn a Biden administration rule tightening federal regulations on stabilizing braces, which have been used in several mass shootings.
All of New York’s House Republicans voted for the resolution, with the exception of D’Esposito, who did not vote.
At a press conference, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries criticized those GOP lawmakers, saying, “The extreme MAGA Republicans this week … voted to make it easier to kill Americans and unleash carnage on children … consistent with the NRA.”
Defenders of the resolution argue the braces are used by disabled veterans.
Molinaro explained his vote for the measure this way: “No federal agency has the right constitutionally, and neither does Congress, to retroactively create felons out of law-abiding citizens.”
President Joe Biden has already pledged to veto the measure if it gets to his desk.