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Senate Sets Hearing on Obama Gun Actions

Shelby has invited the attorney general to testify. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Shelby has invited the attorney general to testify. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
One day after President Barack Obama unveiled his unilateral actions to combat gun violence, a senior senator invited the attorney general to answer for the proposals he considers “executive overreach.”

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to testify at a Jan. 28 hearing on the president’s actions, which Obama argued were legal and necessary in the face of congressional inaction on gun control. Shelby’s subcommittee oversees the Department of Justice’s budget. “Let me be clear: I will not sit idly by and allow the Department to implement unlawful, unconstitutional actions,” Shelby wrote Wednesday in a letter to Lynch.  

The president’s proposals included expanding background checks for firearm purchases at gun shows and on the Internet, as well as several proposals to address mental illness .  

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Obama also indicated he would be requesting funding for 200 new agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which enforces gun laws. But his request would have to be approved by Congress.  

The request would go to Shelby’s subcommittee, but Shelby argued in his letter that his panel has already granted the Justice Department, specifically the FBI, which manages the federal background check system, additional funds in 2016. Shelby said the agency received $75 million above the original 2016 request, a $163 million increase from 2015.  

“While I expect to review the Department’s request for future programs and funding, I also expect that your plan to execute the funding Congress provided for FY 2016 will be consistent with the enacted law — not the whims of the President or his Administration,” Shelby wrote. “America has had quite enough of executive overreach.”

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