1. Update
  2. Gun Violence

The Motion to Recommit in H.R. 8: What Happened?

By Andre Gobbo, April 1, 2019

When the House voted on the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 8), Republican legislators brought up a measure shortly before the final vote that added an amendment to the bill. This process is called a motion to recommit. In this case it passed the House by a vote of 220-209, adding troublesome language targeting immigrants into the final bill.

A motion to recommit is a process that allows for a final opportunity to propose amendments or send a bill back to committee right before a floor vote. Often times a motion to recommit is used by a minority party to force a vote on a particular amendment that may be divisive and would force members of the majority party to take a hard vote.

In this particular instance, the motion to recommit added an amendment to H.R. 8 that requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be notified if/when an undocumented immigrant tries to purchase a gun through a licensed dealer.

Regardless of whether the policy ultimately becomes law, any time that Congress passes bills or amendments that unnecessarily target immigrants, it sends the message that they are unwelcome in our society. The goal of the motion to recommit was to force members of Congress to get on the record as supporting a harmful provision. While making hard votes is part of the legislative process, we’re dismayed to see members of Congress vote in favor of policies that target immigrant populations. We opposed this motion to recommit and its anti-immigrant language.

Going forward, there are ways that we can counteract this step. The companion bill to H.R. 8 in the Senate, the Background Check Expansion Act (S. 42), doesn’t include the harmful language targeting immigrants. If S. 42 passes out of the Senate, then it would go to a conference committee where members of the House and Senate would have to reconcile the differences between their two bills. During this conference process, we would work hard and advocate fiercely to remove the anti-immigrant language from a final compromise.

But before we even get there, the Senate must take action. We have to focus on passing S. 42 out of the Senate. S. 42 already faces resistance in the upper chamber, and it’s uncertain if the bill will be brought up for a vote. We need you to urge your Senators to support S. 42 and bring it up for a vote.

Andre Gobbo

  • Legislative Representative, Domestic Policy

Andre Gobbo adds capacity to the Domestic Policy team by handling constituent queries, writing action alerts and sign-on letters, assisting with lobbying visits, creating informational content, supporting coalition relationships, and helping execute FCNL’s legislative strategies. He primarily works on issues relating to economic justice and gun violence prevention but also assists other domestic policy initiatives. He also serves as the co-chair of the Policy & Advocacy subcommittee within the Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence coalition.