Denver7’s Blair Miller follows up on a big story we’ve been trying to get more information on since it broke over a week ago–an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation by Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, in which Gardner was unexpectedly questioned about a secret hold he allegedly has placed on a bill to strengthen background checks on gun purchases.
Apparently Gardner really doesn’t want to cop to this one:
Many Senate bills often pass by unanimous consent so they don’t have to undergo dozens of hours of hearings and markups before a possible roll call vote. As such, some wondered how a bill that has a veto-proof number of cosponsors in the Senate was held up from being pushed through via unanimous consent, and whether the NRA was behind the hold. Fortune reported last month, citing the Center for Responsive Politics and the New York Times, that Gardner and his associated committees have received about $3.8 million from the NRA during his time in Congress.
ThinkProgress reported that Gardner was behind the hold, but did not cite any sources.
On CBS’s Face the Nation on March 11, Gardner was asked about the Fix NICS bill and said there were “some” senators talking about “due process issues in the bill and legislation.”
“I’ve talked to Sen. Cornyn and I hope that Sen. Cornyn will realize that we need to work this due process matter out. This isn’t an issue of whether you like this or not, it’s a question of constitutional rights and protecting the people of this country, protecting them from harm,” he said…
As for an honest admission from Gardner one way or the other, it’s not forthcoming:
Denver7 asked Gardner repeatedly over the past week whether he was indeed holding up the bill. Our news partners at The Denver Post asked as well, but did not receive a response. [Pols emphasis]
Tuesday evening, when asked about the prospects of Fix NICS being put into the omnibus bill, Gardner’s spokesman, Casey Contres, referred Denver7 back to Gardner’s Face the Nation comments, adding that, “Gardner supports this bill coming to the floor for a robust and open debate.”
Presumably Gardner’s spokesperson is referring to the omnibus spending bill the Fix NICS language was attached to, though it’s left unclear–and we strongly suspect that is Sen. Gardner’s deliberate choice. The fact is, Gardner’s refusal to confirm or deny that he placed a hold on the legislation makes it quite likely that, as all of these news reports suggest, he is. If Gardner was not the originator of the secret hold, by now it would have been far less damaging politically to simply say so.
We haven’t heard the specific reason why Fix NICS was bundled into this larger omnibus spending bill, but it’s reasonable to speculate it was done in order to bypass Gardner’s hold on the bill. At any point, Gardner and the gun lobby which prevailed upon him to take this action could decide that it is not worth the damage and relent.
One thing is for sure, at least two separate media outlets reporting that Gardner was the Senator behind this secret hold on a very popular bill most likely didn’t make it up. Combine that with Gardner’s refusal to clarify that he didn’t do it…
And you mostly likely know all you need to know.