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Trump on preventing mass shootings: ‘we’re going to get it done’

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President Trump said Wednesday the administration is going to strengthen background checks for gun purchases and “put a strong emphasis on mental health,” as he promised students and families “we are going to get it done.”

The president, Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos hosted students, teachers and families affected by the Parkland high school shooting for a “listening session”at the White House Wednesday.

Exactly one week ago, 19-year-old Nicholas Cruz opened fire at the high school and now is charged with killing 17 teachers and students with an AR-15 rifle.

“We are going to be very strong on background checks, and put a very strong emphasis on the mental health of somebody,” Trump said at the beginning of the listening session. “We’re going to talk and get it done. It’s been going on too long, too many instances and we’re going to get it done.”

Students and parents from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, along with Parkland city Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, attended the White House Session, along with members of Sandy Hook Promise, a national non-profit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic Dec. 14, 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Students from Friendship Public Charter School, Parkmont, and Thurgood Marshall Academy in Washington, D.C. also attended.

Parkland Student Body President Julia Cordover opened the session with emotional remarks for the group.

“I’m a survivor. I want you all to emphasize the point that I survived,” Cordover said. “I was lucky enough to come home from school and it is very scary to know that a lot of people did not have the opportunity to be here.”

Cordover thanked the president for addressing bump stocks this week.

The president directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to create new regulations to ban firearm modifiers, including the “bump stock” used in the Las Vegas massacre in October 2017.

A memo released by the White House earlier this week directed the DOJ to propose a rule “banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns.”

The president has also signaled a willingness to raise the minimum age for purchasing certain firearms in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Parkland.

A White House source told Fox News Wednesday that Trump is open to a number of measures to address mass shootings, including the rise in minimum age – a proposal that could face massive resistance from gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association.

Under current federal law, licensed firearm dealers cannot sell handguns to people under 21 and cannot sell long guns to people under 18, according to the Giffords Law Center, which tracks gun laws and advocates for more restrictions. Some states already impose laws with tighter minimum age requirements.

It is unclear, however, whether Trump will push for a change in federal law, or encourage a change at the state level.

The president has expressed support for the Second Amendment and said he’s against reflexive gun control measures that wouldn’t stop tragedies. The NRA endorsed Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and has yet to comment on the president’s current stance on gun control.

“Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

The listening session, Trump’s openness to tightening age restrictions, and the directive to the Justice Department reflect a different response from the White House than in the aftermath of previous tragedies.

Following the Las Vegas massacre, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that it was “premature to discuss policy when we don’t know all the facts,” and added, “we can have those policy conversations, but today is not the day.”

Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott also is slated to meet with students from Parkland Wednesday evening.

 

Fox News’ John Roberts and Alex Pappas contributed to this report. 

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.



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GOP Sen. Johnson delays Covid relief bill by forcing all 628 pages be read out loud

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A Republican senator on Thursday severely delayed the passage of a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package by forcing the entire 628-page bill to be read out loud.

In protest of the bill, which had been expected to pass after a marathon round of votes overnight Thursday, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., objected to waiving the reading of the legislation.

Two Senate clerks — John Merlino and Mary Anne Clarkson — are expected to take shifts reading the bill. The effort, which began at around 3:30 p.m., could last over 15 hours before lawmakers actually begin debating the provisions in the legislation.

Any member can object to waiving the reading of the bill, a procedural move that is typically skipped. Johnson said in a tweet on Thursday because of its large price tag “we should know what’s in the bill.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Johnson’s stunt would “accomplish little more than a few sore throats for the Senate clerks who work very hard day in, day out to help the Senate function.”

The clerk begins reading 628 pages of the Covid Relief bill on the Senate floor of the Capitol on March 4, 2021.NBC News

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted Thursday afternoon to begin debate on President Joe Biden’s relief package in a party-line vote. The bill does not need any Republican support to pass because Democrats are using a special budget process to bypass the filibuster. However, Republicans are expected to raise objections to the bill anyway.

Before a final vote can be taken, there will be a period of lawmakers introducing unlimited amendments, known as a vote-a-rama.

The House passed a version of the Covid-19 relief bill in February. Once the Senate bill is approved, the House will need to vote on it again before it can be sent to the president.



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Whitehall cuts NOW! 'Staggering' salaries of civil servants must be slashed, says Leaver

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BREXITEER Rupert Lowe has demanded “Whitehall cuts” coming just a day after Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed tax changes in his Budget.x

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U.S. Capitol Police request continued National Guard help amid security threats

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The U.S. Capitol Police are asking to keep National Guard troops around for a while longer to help protect the complex, two defense officials confirmed to NBC News.

The police officials’ request of the Department of Defense comes as fears of another assault on the Capitol by extremists went unrealized Thursday and highlights the continued concerns about security at the building.

The request was for a 60-day extension, The Associated Press reported. The nearly 5,000 troops still in Washington, D.C. were slated to return home next week. It’s unclear how many troops the Capitol Police are requesting. The defense officials said the request was an initial ask, with a more detailed request still forthcoming.

The National Guard’s presence at the Capitol was beefed up after the deadly Jan. 6 riot, which saw hundreds of former President Donald Trump’s supporters storm the building in a bid to delay or reject the counting of electoral votes in favor of Joe Biden.

Security was heightened at the Capitol on Thursday after the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI sent a joint intelligence bulletin to state and local law enforcement officials warning them that some domestic extremist groups have “discussed plans to take control of the U.S. Capitol and remove democratic lawmakers on or about 4 March,” a senior law enforcement official told NBC News.

March 4 is considered the “true inauguration day” by some Trump supporters and believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory.

The bulletin also warned that extremists were emboldened by the success of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, heightening the overall threat they pose. It made clear that “the threat did not begin or end on January 6,” the law enforcement official said.

The aftermath of the attack has resulted in the erection of additional barriers around the Capitol as well as the large troop presence — issues that lawmakers have complained about during recent hearings on security issues and elsewhere. Some Democrats have expressed concern about the true level of safety at the Capitol, while some Republicans have downplayed the need for the enhanced security.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., told The Associated Press that lawmakers have been concerned about the security plan going forward.

“We want to understand what the plan is,” Slotkin said. “None of us like looking at the fencing, the gates, the uniformed presence around the Capitol. We can’t depend on the National Guard for our security.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, however, suggested at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week that the security presence at the Capitol amounted to “political theater” intended to cast Trump supporters in a negative light.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters on Wednesday that she thinks the National Guard should remain at the Capitol “as long as needed.”

Pelosi has tasked retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré with leading a review of the Capitol’s security, and said she hopes to be able to present a draft of the plan to the House next week.

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