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Even before the events of the last few days, Congress had a busy agenda. Lawmakers are negotiating over taxes and spending that could affect the economy in the year ahead, not to mention almost every part of the federal government and the take-home pay for millions of Americans.
One person who did have a lot to say about gun control is Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal. He spent several days with grieving residents in Newtown. The Democrat then returned to Washington, and on the Senate floor yesterday, made an emotional plea for stricter gun control. We spoke to him just afterwards.
Senator, this has been a horrible time for the people of your state. We really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.
Gov. Rick Snyder has vetoed a bill that would have allowed concealed pistols to be carried in schools and other places where they had been banned. The Michigan legislature had approved the legislation when its lame-duck session ended Thursday — one day before the Newtown elementary school shootings.
As NPR's Rick Pluta reported for today's Morning Edition, Snyder has said that Friday's tragedy played a role in his consideration of the bill:
If President Obama takes the lead in a movement for more effective gun control now that he's been stirred to action by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, it would mark a significant break from his pattern so far as chief executive.
For while Obama has dutifully served as the nation's consoler in chief in localities where the all-too-frequent mass shootings have occurred, that has seemed the extent of the official response observable to White House outsiders.
The National Rifle Association of America has broken its silence to comment on Friday's gun violence that ravaged a tight-knit Connecticut community, releasing a statement in which the gun-owners' rights group said it "is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."
Over the weekend, President Obama delivered a passionate plea to prevent gun violence, saying we haven't done enough as a country to keep our children safe. The president promised to use all the powers of his office to address the issue in the coming weeks. NPR's Scott Horsley reports on the president's next steps.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. One week before Christmas and there's still no deal to avert the big tax increases and federal spending cuts slated for the end of the year. Today, House Speaker John Boehner is floating the idea of a backup plan if talks between him and the president break down.
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: At the same time that we're going to continue to talk with the president, we're going to also move plan B.
Ask the average person — even in Washington — who serves as President Obama's chief of staff and you'll probably get a blank stare.
Jack Lew hasn't been heard or seen in the "fiscal cliff" drama unfolding between the White House and Congress. But the former budget director, who took over the top White House job last January, has become a key player behind the scenes.