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House GOP passes measure to undo pistol brace regulation

Democrats counter with move to try to force floor votes on gun regulations

Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., conducts a news conference Tuesday outside the Capitol on discharge petitions to bring “common-sense gun safety legislation,” to the floor.
Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., conducts a news conference Tuesday outside the Capitol on discharge petitions to bring “common-sense gun safety legislation,” to the floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Corrected 6:44 p.m. | House Republicans passed a joint resolution Tuesday that would overturn the Biden administration’s rule to tighten federal regulations on pistol braces, an effort that faces a veto threat from President Joe Biden.

Tuesday’s 219-210 vote, which included two Democrats voting for the measure and two Republicans voting against it, comes days after the administration’s rule was set to go into effect. Republicans argued the regulation, which would require brace owners to register them as rifles, surrender them or take them off their firearms, violates Second Amendment rights.

Speaking to reporters before the vote Tuesday, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., criticized the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for acting as their own legislators. Scalise and other backers of the overturn effort argued the braces help disabled people use firearms and have been legal for years.

“We’ve seen from the very beginning, Joe Biden wants to take away gun rights of law-abiding citizens,” Scalise said. “He’s tried multiple different ways, but coming through the back door, trying to retroactively make felons out of people including military veterans who lost limbs, fighting for our freedoms, is shameful.”

A senator can force a vote on a joint resolution on the issue. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., has filed a similar joint resolution in that chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York said Tuesday there are discussions in his caucus about how the Senate should move forward on gun issues.

“What they’re sending over is just awful,” Schumer told reporters about the House resolution. “It allows you to conceal what is in effect an assault weapon, and that’s been used in many of the killings.”

Tuesday’s House vote on the pistol brace regulation comes as most members of the two parties have remained at loggerheads over most gun violence issues. Before the vote, House Democrats filed a procedural measure to force floor votes on several bills meant to reduce gun violence.

Reps. James Clyburn, D-S.C., Lucy McBath, D-Ga., and Mike Thompson, D-Calif., each filed discharge petitions to force floor votes on legislation to extend the deadline on background checks, an assault weapons ban and a bipartisan measure to make background checks universal.

Even if all Democrats sign onto the petitions, a small number of Republicans would need to sign on for the petitions to force a vote.

The pistol braces were targeted by regulators after they were used in several mass shootings and Democrats have argued that the regulation is needed to prevent more deaths. The Biden administration said the president would veto the resolution if it passed Congress.

“This Administration has no higher priority than keeping the American people safe, which is jeopardized with a vote in support of a resolution that makes it easier for mass shooters to obtain these deadly weapons,” a statement of administration policy said.

The regulation has become a sticking point among conservatives, and gun rights groups like the Gun of Owners of America have urged Congress to pass the disapproval resolution. The rule would have gone into effect June 1, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit temporarily stayed the rule while a challenge plays out in the courts.

Conservatives within the Republican caucus picked a fight over the resolution and other grievances with Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday of last week. They voted down a rule on several bills, the first time that has happened in two decades, which paralyzed the floor for the remainder of the week.

Leaders agreed to set Tuesday’s vote as part of a broader pact to get the House floor functioning again.

Democrats such as Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., cast the vote as part of a broader conservative swing in the Republican-controlled House. Lieu spotlighted the vote comes amid gun violence prevention month and the day after the anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016 in Orlando, where a gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub.

“So we had all this chaos, the floor shutdown, and what the radical Republicans extracted was vote for a rule that’s going to now make guns more lethal,” Lieu said at a press conference Tuesday.

This report was corrected to accurately reflect the sponsor of the Senate’s companion measure.

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