WASHINGTON — With gun legislation taking shape on Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama has kept a low profile on an issue he has made a critical part of his second-term agenda.
The president has not been highly visible in the debate during the past three weeks as gun bills are being written. He has been embroiled in a budget battle that has dominated his time and for now is letting Vice President Joe Biden bang the drum for tighter firearms laws.
White House officials say the president plans to speak out on gun control as the issue moves toward a Senate vote in the coming weeks. But for now, he's staying out of delicate negotiations among lawmakers. The White House says he will become more vocal if the legislative process hits a roadblock.
Obama called for a gun control vote in his State of the Union address on Feb. 12 and followed up three days later with a speech on shooting violence in his murder-plagued hometown of Chicago. He has barely mentioned gun control publicly in the time since, other than during a minute of remarks Thursday, shortly after a Senate committee approved a bill to increase gun trafficking penalties. He thanked the senators who supported it and urged other lawmakers to pass it into law.
The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to resume voting on gun bills Tuesday, including an assault weapons ban and background checks that Obama wants.
Biden has been more vocal in the White House's gun-control campaign with speeches, interviews and private negotiations.