Angry Leahy Cancels Hearing On Gun Bill

08/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Ryan Grim Washington Bureau Chief, The Huffington Post

Senate Republicans are pushing a far-reaching gun amendment, which would allow licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines as long as they're following the law in their home state.

The effort is a fairly radical step for the GOP, emboldened by three previous gun amendments they've been able to tack on to unrelated bills.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is leading the charge this time and plans to tack his new idea on to the Department of Defense authorization bill. Except the idea isn't that new.

Thune has been working with the Judiciary Committee over the last several months to schedule a hearing for the bill, but at the request of various Republicans on the committee, it was delayed.

The hearing had been rescheduled for Thursday -- a day after the full Senate will have voted on it.

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the committee, is clearly annoyed at the slight from Thune, and took the step of voicing his displeasure in a "Dear John" letter. In the note obtained by the Huffington Post, Leahy reminds Thune of his efforts to work with him to schedule the hearing. The letter ends with a terse, "The hearing, now being irrelevant, is canceled."

A Leahy spokesperson declined to comment, saying the letter speaks for itself.

Senate Democrats are talking tough on Thune's amendment, hoping the GOP may finally have gone too far. "We're going to go straight at it," Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) vowed.

July 21,2009
The Honorable John Thune
United States Senator
493 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear John,

I had worked hard to respond to your request for a hearing on your bill, S.845. I asked Senator Durbin, the Chairman of the Crime and Drugs Subcommittee, to arrange to hold a hearing on it at his earliest opportunity and, in any event, before the July 4th recess. I was working with him to do just that when the chairmanship changed and Senator Specter became the new Chairman.

Thereafter, I worked with Senator Specter and we arranged to proceed with the hearing on
June 23. Senator Sessions and other Republicans on the Committee asked that we postpone hearings scheduled in late June and early July so that they could use the time to focus on the nomination of Judge Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. I accommodated their request and postponed the June 23 hearing on S.845. I then worked with Senator Specter to reschedule the hearing for July 23.

After all our efforts to accommodate your request, I now see that you have decided to bring
S.845 as amendment number 1618 to the Department of Defense Authorization bill, S.l390, and not wait for a hearing. The hearing, now being irrelevant, is cancelled.

Patrick Leahy

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