White House adviser David Plouffe said Sunday that he believes President Barack Obama has sufficient votes in Congress to pass gun-control legislation.
Nevertheless, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, said he wants to see a detailed gun control plan from Obama.
“Let’s do things better rather than take an opportunity to go after an old agenda,” Blunt said today on “Fox News Sunday.”
“There has to be a plan that could possibly work or the president won’t get it done,” he said.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” which was televised from the National Mall in Washington D.C., Plouffe, said he believes the White House has 60 votes in the Senate and 218 in the House from Democrats and Republicans.
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“I think Newtown has changed the debate,” Plouffe said, referring to the deadly shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in December of 2012.
“Sadly, it took a tragedy like that.” He said both Democratic and Republican Americans support laws controlling the size of weapons clips and requiring universal background checks on gun buyers.
He also predicted that immigration reform will make it through Congress.
“This is the moment,” Plouffe said. “The stars seem to be aligned to finally get comprehensive immigration reform.”
Obama will be officially sworn in today, as required by the Constitution, in a small ceremony at the White House. He will take the oath a second time tomorrow in a public event on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Chief Justice John Roberts will administer both oaths.
Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in earlier today for a second term by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at his residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington. Later, Obama and Biden laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.
Obama has staked out a second term agenda of overhauling immigration, gun control and the tax code. Plouffe took an optimistic stance, saying that the time has come for both immigration change and gun control.
Despite making harsh comments aimed at Republicans about their support of the National Rifle Association on the topic of gun control, and their willingness to “tank” the U.S. economy with regard to debt-ceiling legislation — Plouffe said he believes bipartisanship is “eminently possible.”
“The only way change is going to really happen, and we make progress, is the American people,” Plouffe said. “It’s one of the lessons of the first term. The barrier to progress here is not the president. We need more Republicans in Congress to think like Republicans in the country, who are seeking compromise, seeking balance.”
Obama’s first term was largely consumed by repairing economic wreckage from the 2008 financial crisis and getting his health care law passed. His second term is starting with efforts to reach a compromise with Congress on raising the debt ceiling and cutting deficit spending.
A Republican plan for a short-term debt ceiling increase, giving the Treasury Department three more months of borrowing capacity, is “progress,” Plouffe said on the “Fox News Sunday” program. “We don’t think short-term is smart for the economy” because it doesn’t offer certainty, he said.
The debt limit has been periodically raised since its creation in 1917, when Congress and President Woodrow Wilson authorized the Treasury to issue long-term securities to help finance entry into World War I. Since 1960, Congress has raised or revised the limit 79 times, including 49 times under Republican presidents, according to the Treasury Department, noting the U.S. never has defaulted on its obligations.
The last time Congress fought over the ceiling, Obama signed an increase on Aug. 2, 2011, the day that the Treasury warned U.S. borrowing authority would expire.
Standard & Poor’s cut the nation’s credit rating. Still, Treasury bond investors — who most directly bear the risk of any government default — haven’t shown alarm. Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes declined to 2.56 percent on Aug. 5, 2011, the day of the S&P downgrade, and continued to fall.
Yields on 10-year Treasuries, a benchmark for everything from mortgages to corporate borrowing costs, are down from more than 5 percent in 2007, before the financial crisis of 2008.
Treasury 10-year notes rose last week for a second week for the first time since November as the absence of a resolution to the impasse the U.S. debt ceiling sustained demand for the safest securities. The 10-year note yield fell this week three basis points, or 0.03 percentage point, to 1.84 percent, according to Bloomberg Bond Trader pricing.
Plouffe insisted that Congress has the votes to pass Obama’s agenda.
“We’re confident and that’s one reason we want to stay in communication with the American people because I think they are going to demand action here,” Plouffe said on CNN.
The Dec. 14 shooting in a Connecticut grade school thrust gun control to the top of Obama’s second-term agenda. This past week, he unveiled the most ambitious gun-control proposals in decades, announcing a $500 million package of legislation and executive actions aimed at curbing firearms violence.
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The president called on Congress to require background checks for all gun buyers, ban high-capacity ammunition clips, and reinstate a ban on sales of assault weapons. Obama also signed 23 executive actions aimed at circumventing congressional opposition to new gun restrictions, including several designed to maximize prosecution of gun crimes and improve access to government data for background checks.
Obama’s call has put him in conflict with the National Rifle Association, which opposes the restrictions and has called for armed guards in every school. The gun lobby last week released an ad saying Obama’s own daughters are protected by armed guards at school and calling the president an “elitist hypocrite.”
Obama’s inaugural address tomorrow and State of the Union speech on Feb. 12 will set the tone as he pushes for action.
Bloomberg News contributed to this report.
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