House Democrats and Republicans seem just as destined for an election-season clash over guns as they did before a Democratic sit-in on the chamber's floor ushered in lawmakers' July 4 recess two weeks ago.
Nearly a month after the Orlando mass-shooting catapulted the issue back onto the nation's radar, the two parties were meeting separately Wednesday to map strategy.
Republicans have incorporated some gun curbs into a broader bill aimed at addressing domestic terrorism that the House has planned to debate this week, though their plans seemed less certain late Tuesday. Democrats are insisting on amendments tightening gun restrictions far further, which House Speaker Paul Ryan seemed to nix Tuesday, and each party says the other's proposals are defective.
Ryan, R-Wis., met Tuesday evening with two leaders of the sit-in, Reps. John Lewis of Georgia and John Larson of Connecticut. The Democrats said Ryan listened respectfully and mentioned his party's concerns about protecting gun owners' rights, but made no promise to allow votes on the Democrats' proposals.
Asked what Democrats would do if they are denied votes, Lewis, the civil rights hero, wasn't specific but said: "There will be action. We will not be silent."
Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said the two parties "have different views on how to achieve a shared goal of preventing gun deaths," especially over protecting gun owners' rights. She said the next steps on anti-terror legislation "will be discussed and determined by the majority in the coming days."
That seemed less assured than earlier comments from Ryan that the House would vote on the GOP legislation this week. Late Tuesday, Republicans were working to line up GOP support for their own measure, with some having questions about the bill's procedural protections for gun owners and other concerns.
Despite the uncertainty, GOP leaders' hopes of staging a vote on their proposal underscored the pressure they've felt since the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, that left 49 victims dead. Since the 2012 slaying of school children in Newtown, Connecticut, Republicans have not brought any legislation broadly restricting guns to the House floor.
Ryan wants this vote over and done with so it becomes the Senate's problem, which is what John Boshner would have done a month ago. Sadly, Ryan is even worse at this whole Speaker thing than Orange Julius was, and that's really saying something.
Still, Ryan should be able to say that he kept his promise of holding a vote, and then watch the measure die.
Well, unless the House revolts again. You never know.