The Senate, furthermore, is seen as the far more receptive of the two chambers to the president’s proposals. Obama’s former chief of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, emphasized that point during a forum at the Center for American Progress this week, when he counseled the administration on its legislative strategy in the months ahead.
“Whatever you do, start in the Senate,” Emanuel said.
Partisan Fight Ahead
Even before the president spoke on Wednesday, it was clear that some of Obama’s legislative proposals — and even some of his executive actions — will face strong headwinds.
Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a home-state television interview that he probably would oppose the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban.
Some rank-and-file Republicans said flatly that they did not trust Obama to uphold the Second Amendment, even though the president emphasized his respect for the constitutional right to “keep and bear arms” during his remarks on Wednesday.
“I don’t trust the left to back away from their lifelong commitment to destroy the Second Amendment,” Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said in an interview this week.
Rep. Steve Stockman, a Texas Republican who returned to Congress this year after previously riding into office in the so-called “Republican Revolution” of 1994, threatened to begin impeachment proceedings against Obama as a result of his executive actions, claiming that the president was unconstitutionally circumventing Congress.
The gun-rights lobby, meanwhile, sprung into action ahead of Obama’s announcement. The NRA appealed to its supporters in an email late Tuesday, asking them to “renew or upgrade” their membership ahead of what Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called the “fight of the century.” The group has claimed 250,000 new members since the Dec. 14 shooting in Connecticut.
Democrats are “steamrolling ahead with legislation that would ban your guns, register your ammunition purchases and even force you to register the firearms you already own with Obama’s anti-gun bureaucrats,” LaPierre wrote.
In the immediate aftermath of the Connecticut attack, the group had retreated from public view and stopped its lobbying activity on Capitol Hill, prompting some observers to speculate that the horror of the attack, in which nearly two dozen 6- and 7-year-olds lost their lives, would prompt the organization to soften its strict position against virtually all gun-control measures. Tuesday’s e-mail underscored that the group has no such intentions.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.