Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole declined Thursday to join House GOP leaders in a stampede toward repealing the ban on assault weapons.
House Republicans set off a furor with their sudden move for a floor vote today on only two days’ notice, using emergency rules procedures and without holding hearings.
Relatives of gun victims vented their wrath at GOP leaders during an unofficial hearing hastily organized Thursday by Rep. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
But Dole - who in the past had promised the gun lobby he would support a repeal vote - said one is “not scheduled for the Senate.”
In a statement later, the Kansas Republican presidential candidate said, “I am not optimistic that there is sufficient support in the Senate to pass the repeal.” He said he would confer with colleagues after the House vote on how to advance his “goal of keeping all guns out of the hands of criminals.”
Senate Democrats are confident they could block a repeal, and President Clinton repeated Thursday his promise to veto it.
The apparent futility of pushing the repeal in the Senate could give Dole political cover to stay out of a fight which could cost him moderate pro-gun-control votes in the November election.