Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, is involved in negotiations on both immigration reform and new gun control legislation. As a member of the “Gang of Eight” senators working on immigration reform, he travelled this week with fellow senators to the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona to talk about border security. Although the Senate did not reach a final plan on comprehensive immigration reform before it left for a two-week recess, Sen. Schumer said, “The bottom line is we are very close. I’d say we are 90 percent there.”
- He is also working on a proposal for expanded background checks for private gun sales. Sen. Schumer had been negotiating with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) until the talks ended earlier this month, the two could not agree on whether sellers should be required to keep records. Sen. Schumer is still working with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), and has said he hopes a proposal will be ready when the Senate returns from its spring recess.
- Watch his most recent MTP appearance.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
- Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is also a member of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” and travelled with Sen. Schumer and the other members to the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona. While visiting the border, the group witnessed a woman attempting to cross the border. Sen. Flake said while some of the senators were surprised, “that was the purpose of the visit. It’s just difficult for people to understand, if they don’t live in Arizona, the vastness of the border or the problems that we have. Even in the areas we have fencing and barriers you still see illegal entry.”
- Sen. Flake talked about immigration reform and the prospect of a pathway to citizenship. He said the Republican Party is in a different place now when it comes to immigration reform: “Finally the policy arguments have persuaded enough people, but also politically. We went through a bad election in November and nothing focuses a mind like a bad election. So I think for a variety for reasons it’s time.”
Roundtable: The politics of immigration and guns
- Former senior adviser to President Obama David Axelrod recently talked about the president’s second-term agenda in terms of the budget and new gun legislation. On the issue of guns, Axelrod said the strategy of those opposed to new gun regulations “has been from the beginning to try and slow the process down. … I do think it would have been preferable to strike quickly, but that’s not how the process in Congress works and so you have to work with the situation you find and the best thing you can do is keep the American people involved in the debate.” Watch his most recent appearance.
- Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan recently wrote that Congress waited too long on gun control. She wrote, “I feared in the days after [Newtown] Congress would not move quickly but instead take time to create a more ‘comprehensive’ approach … And opposition would build. And nothing good would happen.” While a “quick, short, simple bill that would ban the use of big ugly monstrous high-capacity magazines” would “have had a high chance of passing. … Instead they dithered, allowed it to drag on … and it doesn’t look like anything good is going to happen.” She is the author of “Patriotic Grace.” Watch her latest show appearance here.
- This week, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson wrote about the need for an assault-weapons ban following the recent release of warrants detailing what authorities found in Adam Lanza’s home after the Newtown shooting. Robinson wrote, “Given that guns are enshrined in the Constitution, there may have been no way to keep firearms out of the Lanza home. But if the federal ban on military-style assault weapons had not been allowed to expire, we might have seen less carnage in Newtown. … Maybe just one life would have been saved. To me, that life is worth more than being in the good graces of the NRA; to members of Congress, perhaps not.” He also wrote “Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America.” Watch is latest MTP appearance.
- Former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) talked recently about the politics Republicans face with immigration reform. Republicans “are very nervous about a path to citizenship.” He said, “I think they’ll give the positive rhetoric and work toward it, but at the end of the day this is also about votes, it’s about politics and you’re talking about enabling a group to vote that is overwhelmingly against you. This is politics at the end of the day as well as policy” and while both the House and Senate may produce a bill, “the question is can you reconcile these?” Here is his most recent MTP appearance.
Roundtable: The same-sex marriage debate
- Actor and activist Rob Reiner attended the Supreme Court hearings this week. Recently he criticized the argument that all same-sex couples are missing is the label “marriage,” but they have the same rights as other couples. He said, “It’s like saying you have all the rights of a citizen, you just can’t be called a citizen. …That’s a big difference. You can vote, but you`re not a citizen of this country. To say that to a group of people, ‘You do not have the same rights and the same privileges and the same equality under the law,’ is just wrong.”
- Brian Brown is the co-founder and president of the National Organization for Marriage. Brown believes “traditional marriage will end up winning both” the Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act challenges. He also said a constitutional amendment is needed “exactly because of what's happening at the United States Supreme Court. This is not a decision the court should be making. The people of the state of California have a right to have their voices heard.”
- NBC News Justice Correspondent Pete Williams reported on both same-sex marriage cases before the Supreme Court this week. He said, “There seemed to be no interest in issuing decision on same-sex marriage one way or the other” in the Proposition 8 case, but the justices seemed “bolder” during oral arguments in DOMA case. Watch his most recent appearance here.
- Rev. Al Sharpton is the host of MSNBC’s Politics Nation and the founder and president of the National Action Network. He recently wrote about Republicans’ plan to reach out to minorities: “I'm glad that [RNC Chairman Reince] Priebus and Republicans recognize and acknowledge that they have a severe problem attracting minorities to their Party. But unfortunately, they fail to realize that all the money in the world can't solve their problems unless they learn to change their policies” and “until their fundamental platform changes, they'll only see that problem grow.” Watch his most recent Meet the Press appearance.
- Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote this week about how Pope Francis is staying in line with tradition, but departing from it as well. The pope “so far seems to embody the best hopes of both sides—for tradition but open for action, for the truth and for the poor. He may come to remind people that they have more in common than perhaps they understood.” Watch her latest show appearance here.
Follow these guests on Twitter:
- Sen. Jeff Flake: @JeffFlake
- Sen. Chuck Schumer: @ChuckSchumer
- Peggy Noonan: @Peggynoonannyc
- Rev. Al Sharpton: @TheRevAl
- Brian Brown: @briansbrown
- Pete Williams: @PeteWilliamsNBC
- Eugene Robinson: @Eugene_Robinson
- David Axelrod: @davidaxelrod