Even if the committee approves the assault weapons bill when the markup eventually occurs, the legislation’s fate is uncertain in the broader Senate and even more doubtful in the Republican-led House. Key Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, have declined to endorse the bill, and House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., on Wednesday repeated some of the criticisms made by his Senate GOP counterparts about the bill.
“The problem with it is the distinction between a so-called assault weapon and the 40 million semiautomatic weapons that were lawful then, are lawful now [and] are owned by citizens of the United States, is one of cosmetics, not one of functionality,” Goodlatte said during a breakfast session with reporters Wednesday sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. He declined to say whether the House would take up the proposal.
The National Rifle Association strongly opposes the assault weapons bill and took to Twitter during Wednesday’s Senate hearing to urge its supporters— which include roughly half of all members of Congress — to “stop Feinstein.”
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.