Updated 12:46 p.m. | Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid lashed out on the National Rifle Association on Thursday as he served notice Democrats would push gun violence amendments during the Senate vote-a-rama on a budget bill.
“Now, there was a time in my legislative career that I tried to work with the National Rifle Association, but the NRA today is a far cry from [the] sportsmen’s organization that I once supported,” the Nevada Democrat said. “The NRA once called mandatory background checks ‘reasonable.’ That’s what they said. I’m not making this up.”
Reid used to have warm relations with the NRA, and during his 2010 re-election campaign he championed a new shooting range , which he told reporters in attendance was “the greatest gun park in the world.”
Reid Calls NRA ‘Quasi-Militant Wing’ of GOP
The NRA’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, even said at the time he was “proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Senator Reid in our fight to protect the Second Amendment.”
But life has changed.
Reid said on the Senate floor that the NRA and its leadership has “transformed into a quasi-militant wing of the Republican Party. They’re being pushed more and more into the camp of guns for everybody any time they want ’em,” also mentioning the emergence of a conservative firearms group known as the Gun Owners of America.
The move to get the votes on gun policy amendments comes the day after the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 dead.
Reid steered clear of many specifics about the amendment proposals, though he did highlight a measure he filed Wednesday on which CQ Roll Call has reported.
“People on this side of the aisle are focused on doing something to stop this gun violence, and we’re going to force amendments to that end today. Not many, but a few. A few that try to do something, anything. Are we going to vote on expanded background checks? Shouldn’t we do that, at least,” said Reid. “We’re going to vote to prevent criminals convicted of harassing women at health clinics from buying a gun, owning a gun. Senators will have to decide where they stand on these amendments.”
Ultimately, following a caucus meeting, Senate Democrats decided that they would offer an amendment to the reconciliation package that would require background checks for firearm purchases, as well as one that would block individuals on a terrorist watch list from buying guns, a senior Democratic aide told CQ Roll Call.
Another amendment from Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington to remove provisions from the bill defunding Planned Parenthood and similar organizations would also fund clinic security.
New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the chamber’s No. 3 Democrat, is slated to lead a news conference Thursday focusing on efforts by members of the caucus to offer gun legislation to the budget reconciliation bill on the floor that would cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood and rollback as much of the 2010 health care law as could reasonably take place under the Senate’s budget rules.
“How can we live with ourselves for failing to do things we know that may reduce gun violence. Will it get of all of it? Of course not, but will it reduce it? Yes,” Reid said of actions Congress should take. “We’re complicit through our inaction, and if continue to fail to act we’ll be complicit today and every day into the future.”
Related: As California Shooting Unfolds, Reid Pushes Guns Measure Harry Reid’s Gun Control Conversion: Courage or Cynicism? See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call’s new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.