Congress returns this week for what will be a shortened session but it will be the first opportunity to determine how they will handle three front and center issues: guns, appropriations and DACA
They return from their districts for the first time post-Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida shootings. Some will come back from districts where people think more guns in circulation is the only answer and it may be a question of how many of those members are in Congress and how many come from alternate districts and states.
These are areas where members have been facing down millennials who are tired of the 21st century version of the 1950s “duck and cover” practices. The 1950s duck and cover that was used to deal with a nuclear attack that never came versus the modern day duck and cover that has been all too real and deadly and has taken the lives of children as young as 6 to students as old as 26, not counting their instructors and adult protectors (teachers).
It will likely be a matter of how long they can wait for passions to cool, if they do, and whether those passions threaten to change the make up of the next Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WS) spent the last week allowing the President to take the lead.
Members of Congress may not be in town when the March for Our Lives Washington DC protest takes place but they likely will be confronted by separate local protests according to the organization’s Facebook page.
CWLA issued a statement regarding the Parkland School shootings and will be participating in the March 24, event. That statement issued by Chris James-Brown, President & CEO, said in part:
“The tragic and unacceptable school shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which took the lives of 14 of our children and three of their guardians and protectors, has now forced the survivors of this disaster to do what our elected officials have been unwilling to do….
Our national and state leaders must act as part of ensuring a safe community for all children. Do what these young survivors from Parkland are demanding: what we are hired to do, empowered to do as leaders, and required to do as adults, parents, and human beings. Make our schools and communities safe from this outrageous violence. And do it now.”
The likelihood of Congress acting however appears to be very slim. Senator Mitch McConnell has been reluctant to offer debate time on such controversial issues and it’s unlikely to change in this instance. In the House, members are already on record and have sent the Senate a bill, HR 38, that that would mandate that if a person comes from a state where a concealed weapon is legal that person can travel to another city and carry a concealed weapon even if they are illegal in that jurisdiction. The bill passed in December by a vote of 231 to 198.
The House has announced that they will suspend activities on Wednesday and Thursday while the body of the Reverend Bill Graham lies in state and the Senate will likely do the same. That means there will be a shortened week to address and finish the 2018 appropriations with a CR running out on March 23. It also means that when Congress returns the following week, we will hit the implementation date for the President’s Executive Order repealing DACA protections. Aside from the gun debate Congress will focus on appropriations for FY 2018.