After the U.S. Senate voted down a slate of proposals to toughen the country's gun laws Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner today was non-committal on the prospect of considering similar measures in the House of Representatives. Still, the speaker maintained that the Republican-controlled committees of jurisdiction in the House will continue examining mental health and gun violence.
"Our committees continue to work at this," Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "No decision has been made beyond that."
When he was asked whether he will expedite consideration of a bill or follow regular order, in which a bill starts at the committee level, and, separately, whether he believes there should be a political price to pay for lawmakers who oppose stronger gun legislation, the speaker's tone carried a lack of urgency.
"Our committees are going to continue to look at the violence in our society and look at these tragedies and determine whether there are common-sense steps that we can take to reduce the chances of this," Boehner said. "The relevant committees are working on this issue. I'm going to continue to work with them, and when we have a decision to announce, we'll announce it."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are "so disappointed" by the Senate's failed efforts, but she said she will continue fighting for stronger gun measures.
"Something must be done, because that's what the American people expect and what they deserve," Pelosi, D-Calif., said. "What we want also is a vote. The American people can say to the leadership in the Congress, to the speaker of the House, give us a vote. Give us a vote in the House."
Boehner has long maintained that he would wait until the Senate actually passes legislation - not simply takes votes on gun measures - before he considers any gun-related legislation on the House floor.
Today, despite the actuality of the Senate's failed votes, Pelosi urged Boehner to take up legislation without delay.
"If he was waiting for the Senate to act and now he feels he's - doesn't have any work to do, well, then that just says we're not the legislative branch," Pelosi said. "We're the first branch of government, the legislative branch. It is our responsibility to legislate, and we have our responsibility in the House to do that."
Rep. Mike Thompson, the chairman of the Democratic Task Force to Prevent Gun Violence, said that the failed vote in the Senate was "unexplainable," but is "not going to slow us or deter our work in regard to gun violence prevention."
"Every time I get in the car, the Garmin says, 'recalculating, recalculating,'" Thompson, D-Calif., joked. "We'll recalculate and get our bearing, and we're going to go forward on this. The American people want their Congress to take action to make their communities, their neighborhoods, their workplace and their schools safer, and we can do that while protecting the Second Amendment."