Thomas Massie

Rep. Thomas Massie Irked That GOP-Dominated House Rules Committee Killed Amendments to Defund D.C. Gun Laws


Despite today's sit-in by Democrats in the House of Representatives advocating some action to further restrict Americans' Second Amendment rights, today Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) says that he very much doubts any new anti-gun action will issue from a Congress with both houses controlled by Republicans.

Thomas Massie

But this week he's more worried about pro-gun action that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and his leadership team seems reluctant to get to the floor. Despite an initial promise of continuing an open process for allowing amendments to come to the floor for a vote, Ryan changed his tune and now has a "structured" process whereby the Rules Committee can prevent amendments from making the floor. Massie complained about this change to Huffington Post earlier this month.

Massie this week saw the Rules Committee choke two of his proposed amendments to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act intended to prevent the District of Columbia from damaging its citizens Second Amendment rights. Massie is pretty sure that's just because leadership thinks it can't help and only hurt certain possibly vulnerable Republican House seats in November to put its members on record on the matter.

The amendments would have defunded D.C. efforts to enforce gun-free zones and its permit requirements for concealed carry in the District.

As of this morning, Massie had not been told there was any parliamentary errors in the way they were crafted; he has reason to believe they just got smacked down because the Rules Committee, which is 9-4 Republican, didn't want to make the House think about them.

Massie two years ago "offered an amendment that was far more sweeping, it defunded all of D.C.'s gun control, every single law" and it got to the floor under an open rule. It "passed overwhelmingly," 241-181, although the bill it was attached to was eventually abandoned in total. (Massie can't be sure, but he think that amendment passing might have prodded a U.S. District Court to finally act later that same month on overturning D.C.'s total ban on public carry of weapons, a case that had been languishing mysteriously for years.)

A disappointed Massie worries that "the legislative agenda in the House is driven by a desire to protect maybe half a dozen members in swing seats" who are "incidentally the least conservative members of the Republican conference."

While some think post-Orlando is a bad time to openly debate measures like Massie's, he believes the opposite. "The Senate got their votes, and no one was hurt over there. This would be a great opportunity to talk about how background checks don't work and how gun-free zones make us less safe. We should be having [such] votes."

Massie regrets that he sees leadership believing it's "better if we are not on record at all on certain issues." He admits many of his colleagues might actually prefer such a "paternalistic system" that "protects them from votes on issues people care deeply about." He doesn't think even greater majorities for the GOP would make Ryan back down on killing open rules for amendments; "once someone grabs power, rarely do they let go of it. This is an autocratic power grab even [former speaker John] Boehner didn't succumb to or partake in."

It irks Massie to see Republicans being timid about pursuing things like his amendments, since "we are sometimes too timid, and the Democrats are never timid."