Schumer to request Trump redirect wall funding to address gun violence and white supremacy extremism

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is planning to ask the Trump administration to withdraw its request for $5 billion in border wall funding and redirect the funding to counter gun violence and white supremacy extremism, a person familiar with Schumer’s thinking told CNN.

The Trump administration is unlikely to be receptive to the request, especially given that the border wall is a key priority for the President. But the request will nevertheless serve as a way for Democrats to keep the issue of gun control in the news as Congress remains on recess.

In the wake of recent mass shootings, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the Senate back into session to pass background checks legislation that previously passed out of the Democratic-controlled House, but McConnell has resisted those calls. The House and Senate are both out of session for August recess.

In an interview earlier this month, McConnell told a Kentucky radio station that the Senate will put the issues of background check legislation in addition to “red flag” laws “front and center” when the body reconvenes after its summer recess, but indicated that the Senate will not return early from recess, despite demands from Democratic lawmakers.

The request from Schumer was first reported in Politico’s Playbook newsletter on Tuesday morning.

According to Schumer’s office, the initiatives the Democratic leader will ask for funding to go to rather than the border wall include, but are not limited to: Department of Homeland Security programs and initiatives to counter violent extremism, FBI domestic terrorism investigations and CDC gun violence research.

“The dual scourges of gun violence and violent white supremacist extremism in this country are a national security threat plain and simple,” Schumer said in a statement, adding, “it’s time the Trump administration and Republicans in congress starting treating them as such.”

“Republicans and this administration need to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to addressing gun violence and stopping the rise of domestic terrorism, especially stemming from white supremacy,” Schumer said.