Barely 24 hours after a gunman killed 21 at an elementary school, Democratic leaders are frantically lowering expectations.
As a wounded nation once again calls out for lawmakers and civic leaders to “do something” in the wake of the latest mass shooting of children in an school classroom, the powers that be in United States Senate want the public to know that they hear you, loud and clear. And don’t worry, America, they totally are going to do “something” ... y’know, eventually. Maybe.
Just 24 hours after a gunman killed at least 19 grade-schoolers and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Senate Democrats are frantically lowering expectations that they can and will get anything done anytime soon. In fact, while the Senate was virtually lockstep in its rush to give Supreme Court justices round-the-clock security after people politely chanted for reproductive rights outside their homes, powerful Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin conspicuously deferred any action on gun control debate Wednesday, until at least after the upcoming long Memorial Day weekend. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer echoed the same “hurry up and wait” sentiment, telling his colleagues that he would not bring a pair of background check bills — already passed by the House — to the Senate floor for the immediate time being, even if only to force Republican lawmakers to go on the record opposing the overwhelmingly popular legislation.
“I believe that accountability votes are important,” Schumer conceded during his Wednesday speech on the Senate floor. “Sadly, this isn’t a case of the American people not knowing where their senators stand. They know.”
And, as Schumer correctly noted, there are indeed electoral realities — without 10 Republicans willing to cross the aisle to overcome a filibuster, it’s unlikely any gun control legislation will pass this particular Senate. Instead, Schumer opined, “Americans can cast their vote in November for senators or members of Congress that reflect how he or she stands with guns with this issue, this issue, at the top of the voters’ lists.”
But whip count aside, the optics of the (ostensibly) most powerful person in the most powerful legislative body in the country effectively throwing his hands in the air and saying, “Welp, I’ve got nothing,” is a brutal psychic blow to anyone hoping Democrats had the will to actually risk their political capital to do something — anything — in the face of what they themselves have admitted is an imminent crisis.
Instead, we get this: Brake-pumping for the long weekend, and a plea to simply do more of what people already did in 2020. If this really is the ongoing calamity Democrats say it is (and it is!), then their failure to act immediately, or even look like they’re acting immediately, is just a sign that maybe, in the end, after the hand-wringing and calls for comity and civility, deep down they’re okay with the status quo after all.