U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Western Springs, is hoping the Senate will follow the House’s lead on requiring more extensive background checks for firearms purchases, but he’s not overly optimistic.
“I think the Senate should act on a bill the House passed on enhanced background checks for buying guns,” Lipinski said. “I’d like to see the Senate do that, but I’m not expecting (Sen.) Mitch McConnell to call them back in. I think they’re just going to wait.”
He noted that with the Senate and House on summer break until after Labor Day, a long wait may cool support.
“Four weeks is a long time,” he said.
Lipinski and his wife had a firsthand experience with a shooting situation while attending the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, where shots rang out last month, resulting in three deaths.
“The president did come out and say he’s in support of enhanced background checks,” Lipinski said. “We’ll see if he really follows through on that or not. If he does, perhaps the Senate can pass it. He’s talked about doing it by executive order. I’d much rather see us pass legislation.”
Speaking after the village of La Grange celebrated its 140th birthday Aug. 8, Lipinski discussed other issues.
He does not like the idea to suspend the debt ceiling for the next two years, saying he voted against that because “it’s adding another $2.3 trillion to our debt.”
“I didn’t think it was good to do, but it did pass,” he said. “We’re still not out of the woods yet until we pass bills that say how the money is going to be spent, although we have a top line number of how much will be spent.”
Lipinski was part of a recent bipartisan Congressional panel that visited the U.S.-Mexico border and toured a facility that houses boys ages 13 to 17 and a processing center for illegal immigrants who have been apprehended by U.S. law enforcement.
“What I saw was not as bad as the reports we’ve read,” Lipinski said. “It’s not a great situation, but I think the custom and border control agents are doing the best that they can. They have a really tough job right now. Their No. 1 job is protecting the border, but they are being forced right now to do so much else.”
The panel walked down a path to a road that the border officials patrol. Looking across the Rio Grande river, they saw Mexican military forces, he said.
“It seemed to be at least they were making a show that they were making an effort to prevent people from crossing,” Lipinski said. “It was very interesting to see.”
He noted that border patrol agents are law enforcement officers who now need to care for people.
“When we were at the processing facility, an agent said he never thought he’d have to be out buying diapers and clothes for kids. That’s what they have to do now,” Lipinski said.
“It’s difficult for everybody,” he added. “To see so many kids there, it’s sad to see. But the kids seemed to be relieved probably that they had survived and gotten there. They seemed to be in relatively good spirits.”