The last time President Trump pushed for a big bipartisan deal, it ended badly for Democrats, with no action on immigration and their base was furious. They’re determined it won’t happen again, Politico reports. Democratic leaders are working closely with rank-and-file lawmakers and activists, taking steps to stay unified on guns and avoid the kind of strategic lurches behind the failed fight over Dreamers. Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi in the House are acknowledging that big-ticket gun control is probably a non-starter in Congress, given entrenched opposition among Republicans. Instead, they’re working to seize on the mounting public outrage and press their advantage by stoking big turnouts to demonstrations this month planned by survivors of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fl.
It helps that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting appears to have staying power, with polls showing stronger support for gun control and activists reporting a surge in grass-roots involvement. Democratic lawmakers left meetings with student survivors last week convinced that the tragedy would prove to be a pivot point. Unlike with immigration, Democrats aren’t feeling the pressure of hard deadlines, either to act on Dreamers or fund the government. Democrats can’t rely too much on Trump, who is already cozying back up to the National Rifle Association after calling for expansive gun control measures. Still, asked whether he is concerned about leaving gun control backers as disappointed as the immigrant-rights activists were, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.) said: “Absolutely.” Party leaders are pushing expanded background checks as a bipartisan rallying point while remaining realistic about the prospects for reinstating an assault weapons ban that continues to split the party and faces stiff GOP opposition.