WASHINGTON -- Working to maintain gun policy reform's place in the political conversation, Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday will urge Congress to act on the White House slate of proposals.
It's unclear whether Biden will explicitly call for a vote on expanded background checks, the centerpiece of those proposals. But a senior administration official told reporters that Biden "will make that push" when it came to arguing for the president's policy prescriptions, which were filibustered in the Senate in April.
Biden also will announce on Tuesday that the administration has done well on the scorecard of executive actions to reduce gun violence. President Barack Obama outlined 23 administrative actions he could take without Congress during a speech on Jan. 16. On 21 of them, the administration has "completely or made significant progress," Biden will say, pointing to new money for gun violence and mental health research, greater data sharing between federal and state agencies, and updated emergency management plans.
In anticipation of Biden's speech, the White House released a fact sheet detailing the accomplishments on the executive actions. That fact sheet is embedded below.
That the administration is marking actions it has taken without congressional approval shows how the gun policy debate has played out this year. On one hand, it shows that the White House isn't ducking the debate, to the delight of many reform advocates.
"I think what the administration thinks -- what can be accomplished through executive action -- is real and necessary, but not sufficient," said Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. "If all that comes out of this once-in-a-generation debate is teaching kids how to duck and cover during a mass shooting, some members of Congress are going to have a lot to explain when it happens. And it will happen."
The administration's statements also underscore the limits of the president's powers of persuasion when it comes to the legislative branch and gun policy reform. One executive action the administration lists as unaccomplished is getting Todd Jones confirmed as the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Senate approval is required for that. And while the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing, the broader chamber hasn't done much more.
But that isn't stopping the White House from plowing forward. One administration official quibbled when The Huffington Post asked what prompted the renewed focus on guns. "I reject the premise," the official said.
Another senior administration official, who like the others would only speak about legislative plans on condition of anonymity, said that the White House remains "engaged with members of Congress on this issue" and has been buoyed by the political backlash to the Senate's rejection of background checks legislation.
"This is something that continues to be at the top of the agenda of both the president and vice president," the official added. The official declined to name members of Congress who have participated in those conversations.