Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Politics

Republicans threaten budget showdown over Obama's gun control actions

WASHINGTON — Several Republicans threatened to use Congress' annual spending bills to hit back at gun control policies announced by President Barack Obama on Tuesday, furious at the president's attempt to sidestep Congress on such a controversial issue.

Leading Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee and from the party's conservative wing vowed to use the appropriations process to block Obama's executive actions and deny the president the necessary funding to implement some of his proposals.

"What the president has done is unconstitutional and any action Congress can take, we should, including appropriations," said Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., a member of the House's Freedom Caucus.

In the meantime, some Republicans are exploring options beyond the appropriations process to combat the president's latest actions.

"I don't have any faith that when it comes down to negotiations between the two sides that this will be addressed," Buck said, adding that he hopes Senate Republicans will stage a protest by refusing to confirm Obama's nominees.

Spokesmen for Freedom Caucus founders Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., said those congressmen would likely also be on board.

The response by Republican leaders, especially Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, was equally indignant but less specific. The issue could prove a key test of whether Ryan can satisfy the conservative wing in his first full year after replacing then-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

But Republicans' only real shot at diluting Obama's executive actions is during the budget process, which will not come to conclusion until early fall because of the budget deal struck last year by lawmakers. Some of Obama's proposals may rely on lawmakers to approve funding for them, including hiring an additional 230 FBI examiners to process background checks and 200 new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators to enforce current laws. Congress also would have to approve devoting $4 million to track illegal online gun trafficking and dedicating $500 million to improving mental health services.

"The Committee is very concerned about the implications of this proposal and will take a careful look at the funding as we move forward with the next budget cycle," said Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky.

Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., both panned Obama's proposals, but did not specify how Congress should respond.

"From day one, the president has never respected the right to safe and legal gun ownership that our nation has valued since its founding," Ryan said in a statement. Ryan, like McConnell, promised committees will closely examine the proposals but did not detail further possible actions.

"Ultimately, everything the president has done can be overturned by a Republican president, which is another reason we must win in November," McConnell said.

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