Sen. Brown touts bipartisan firearms bill, other legislative progress

By: - June 24, 2022 3:50 am

Sen. Sherrod Brown (from Sen. Brown’s website)

Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown predicted quick passage for a bipartisan gun reform package negotiated by his colleagues in the wake of the Uvalde shooting.

“We will pass the bill tonight or tomorrow,” Brown said Thursday. “We will get it. The House will pass it, I assume, quickly, and we will get it to the president of the United States to sign.”

Brown spoke during a regular press conference with reporters highlighting legislation he has sponsored. The senator touted passage of a bill providing benefits to veterans exposed to toxins during their service, as well as new legislation requiring the federal government purchase domestically produced American flags and another bill requiring employers give advance notice of plant closures or layoffs.

While Brown acknowledged the Senate firearm proposal’s shortcomings, he emphasized what it got right.

“A young man shouldn’t be able to go into a gun store on his 18th birthday and buy a weapon, with essentially no background check, with essentially no waiting period, shouldn’t be able to buy a weapon that can kill a dozen people in a few seconds,” Brown said. “This bill will stop some of that. It’s not everything, but it’s major progress.”

Although the proposal doesn’t address Democratic wish list items like a ban on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, it does take action on a number of issues where both major parties agree. In addition to enhanced background checks for purchasers under 21, the measure will impose more explicit restrictions on straw purchases and domestic abusers. The measure also appropriates money for mental health services, school security upgrades, and administrative support for states establishing red flag laws.

Brown also weighed in on the present state of the economy. President Biden’s gas tax holiday proposal is just fine with him, but he worries about that tax cut getting passed along to consumers. Better, Brown said, would be a tax “excess” profits collected by companies in numerous industries — oil producers chief among them.

A day after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell appeared before the Senate Banking Committee, which Brown chairs, the senator gave him mixed marks for handling of the economy. He contended Powell should’ve recognized and reacted to inflation more quickly, but didn’t fault his actions in response since. Brown argued the more important response — bringing more of the U.S. supply chain back on shore — is a bit outside of Powell’s control.

“We’re still paying the price in higher inflation because of the supply chain disruption, because so many of these companies thought it was okay to shut down production in Zanesville and Akron and go for cheap labor in China,” Brown said.

Brown explained he hasn’t been following the House Jan. 6 committee hearings to determine whether he believes criminal charges are warranted. But he was quick to note, as a Senator whose office was ransacked that day, he wants to see accountability.

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Nick Evans
Nick Evans

Nick Evans has spent the past seven years reporting for NPR member stations in Florida and Ohio. He got his start in Tallahassee, covering issues like redistricting, same sex marriage and medical marijuana. Since arriving in Columbus in 2018, he has covered everything from city council to football. His work on Ohio politics and local policing have been featured numerous times on NPR.

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