'Congress has taken no significant action' to address epidemic of gun violence: Karl

The Powerhouse Roundtable breaks down the latest news on "This Week."
11:47 | 04/18/21

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Transcript for 'Congress has taken no significant action' to address epidemic of gun violence: Karl
This has to end. It's a national embarrassment. It is a national embarrassment, what's going on, and it's not only these mass shootings that are occurring, every single day, every single day there's a mass shooting in the United States if you count all those who are killed out on the streets of our cities and our rural areas, it's a national embarrassment and must come to an end. Tough words from president Biden about an epidemic the nation has seemingly become numb to. So let's bring in our roundtable, chief Washington correspondent and a "This week" co-anchor, Jon Karl, senior white house correspondent Mary Bruce, "L.A. Times" columnist, and ABC contributor, lz Granderson and ABC news deputy political director averi Harper making her "This week" debut, and she is an expert, an ace, so no pressure, averi. But I'm going to start with Jon. Jon, more shootings this week, more mass shootings, the white house lowering its flag to half-staff again on Friday after those mass murders in Indianapolis. President Biden as you saw calling it a national embarrassment and urging congress to act, but there are already two bills stalled in the senate, so what happens? Martha, those flags over the Biden white house have been already been lowered three times after a mass shooting and he hasn't even been president for 100 days. It doesn't take, you know, a genius to see that something is tragically wrong when the shooter in Indianapolis is able to legally buy two assault rifles even after and not long after reportedly the police had seized a weapon from him because of concerns about his mental state. So there's no magic law out there that's going to prevent all these mass shootings, but the baffling thing here is that nine years after sandy hook, 22 years after columbine, congress has taken no significant action whatsoever to deal with this epidemic of gun violence, and as you heard the president point out, this is not just about mass shootings, last year the -- in the United States some 20,000 people died from gun violence and that does not include suicides. That was a 20-year high and, Martha, so far this year, 2021, the pace has not slowed, has not slowed at all. And, Mary, the president sounds so passionate about the issue, but how much political capital do you think Biden really wants to spend on this? That's really the big question here. There's a lot of concern especially from gun reform advocates that the president is hesitating despite how passionately he feels about this issue to really use his political capital on an issue that may face such long odds of becoming a political reality. You know, the president insists he's never not prioritized this and says he's able to push for these reforms while also focusing on his agenda but I think you have to look at his actions and not just his words on this and so far he has been prioritizing his economic agenda getting this pandemic under control. You know, Biden promised big sweeping gun reforms and so far we have just seen a handful of limited executive actions. He promised legislation on day one that never came and when I've pressed the white house about why not, why not put out their own legislation and lead the charge on this, they insist the president is leading the charge by the way in which he uses the bully pulpit but we simply haven't seen a big public push on this, and they insist the white house says that this isn't a lack of will on the president's part, but a lack of willingness by Republicans to be willing to go ahead and take some action here. And, averi, of course, it is not just those mass shootings and gun control that is the issue, as Mary alluded to, so many of these incidents have involved the police in communities of color, yet the white house hasn't delivered on president Biden's promise to address police reform saying again he wants congress to act. So where do you see this? That's right. We saw the white house back away from its promise to put together a police oversight commission, instead saying they would focus on passing the George Floyd justice in policing act as their top priority as it relates to police reform, but it's unclear what the white house is doing to ensure that that gets to his desk to sign into law. We did see the president talk about the daunte Wright shooting, but he didn't address police reform at all. What he did talk about was looting, and before he even acknowledged the pain and the suffering that the black community, that communities of color go through when they see these sorts of incidents, and so we heard Ben crump talk earlier about the urgency that's needed to be put behind police reform. I'm sure there's lots of folks out there who want to see that urgency as far as it goes with police reform that he talked about in the looting and the aftermath of the daunte Wright shooting, and if he doesn't act, if the white house fails to do so, I think they risk alienating the very voters, black voters that he credits with his ascension to the white house. And, lz, great to see you again. You wrote a very powerful column this week in "The Los Angeles times" that said the problem is that the onus for change is put on blacks, not whites. Yeah, absolutely. You know, one of the favorite questions that I know a number of black people hear regularly but certainly since 2020 is what can I do? How can I help? As if this information has been kept secret all these years as if there aren't documentaries and books, as if there aren't ways in which you can get access to information about what specifically can you do to help this country stop being racist, to move away from being nonracist to anti-racist. There's plenty of content. But when you're presented with the question what can I do, that does two things, first of all, it announces the white person saying I'm not racist, it's not me, but then also, two, do the work for me which speaks to their privilege. So one of the things I would like to see happen is that more and more people who are concerned about this issue who happen to be white move away from asking what can I do and move towards asking what haven't I done what I know I can do yet. And, Mary, in the midst of all this, in this talk about racism, punch bowl news reported that Georgia Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene was going to start an America first caucuses that highlighted what was termed uniquely anglo-saxon traditions. That clearly means white. She got a lot of pushback for that and now is saying, no, no, no, that really wasn't going to happen. That was just preliminary. Where are we with that? Well, her office says now she's not planning to launch this America first caucus, that this was sort of an idea in its infancy that actually was never approved by the congresswoman but it certainly did get a lot of fierce blowback. We saw not just Democrats but Republican leaders coming out and quickly denouncing what this caucus appeared to stand for. Racism, nativism, the false claims around election fraud and even if this doesn't end up becoming an actual caucus on capitol hill, it certainly goes to underscore the challenges that the Republican party is facing as it tries to move past perhaps some of the legacy of the trump administration as they try to get past the lasting impacts of the previous administration, and it also let's be honest creates more headache for Republican leaders who want to be focused on trying to counter the Biden administration agenda and regaining the house in the midterms. But, Jon, she continues to raise a lot of money. First of all, Republicans who are hoping that the party wouldn't go in a nativist direction, in a direction of conspiracy theories and harping on the election insisting Donald Trump did not really lose, that he was the true winner of the election were encouraged when Liz Cheney who of course challenged Donald Trump and voted to impeach him raised $1.5 million in the first quarter of this year, and then it turned out that Marjorie Taylor Greene raised more than twice that much, Martha. She raised $3.2 million. She doesn't have a committee -- those were stripped from her. That is a staggering amount of money flowing to somebody who is on the very fringe of the political system, but still obviously has a lot of support out there among that Republican base. She clearly does. Averi, I want to talk about infrastructure. Any chance for a bipartisan deal there? Where are we on that? Well, at the center of the debate on the infrastructure plan is one question, what do you consider infrastructure? Republicans have a much narrower interpretation of what infrastructure is than Democrats, Republicans looking at things that we would conventionally consider infrastructure, roads, bridges and in some cases broadband while Democrats want to see a much more robust package including things that we would typically consider social issues like paid family leave, like child care, education, the list goes on. And so there's lots of negotiation that is to be done in order for that infrastructure plan to make it to the president's desk. We know that he is willing to negotiate in terms of the scope and the size of that plan and he's going to have to negotiate with not just Republicans but also Democrats, we saw a group of New York house Democrats send a letter to house leadership saying they are not going to vote yes on the plan if it doesn't include lifting the cap on state and local tax deductions so there is a long arduous path ahead for that plan. Mary, I want to turn to that refugee camp that caused a lot of uproar this week or as the white house said a lot of confusion. You saw me ask secretary blinken about it. But what happened? They're down there at the 15,000 low. Why don't they lift the cap now? What happened is the president explained yesterday is that the crisis along the southern border means that they aren't able, he says, to go ahead and lift that cap now and, of course, the president for the first time actually describing it as a crisis. Martha, you have spent time reporting down there. You know this is a crisis. The white house had gone out of its way to not describe it as such. But the president is having to admit part of the reason he can't raise that limit, the trump era historically low limit of 15,000 refugees allowed into the U.S. Is because there's a concern that a system that is already overloaded may be taxed even more. So I think it goes to show two things, one, the fact that this administration is still struggling with how to unwind the harsh trump immigration policies and deal with the fallout of that, but also it is the president backtracking on a key promise here. He did promise raise that limit to 62,500. They say even though they are now going to announce a new limit next month, a move they announced only after facing fierce, fierce backlash from some Democrats who called this shameful, unacceptable, they got a ton of pushback, of course, from advocacy groups, but even when the president does announce a new limit, the white house has made very clear that it is not likely to reach that 62,000 target that the president -- Lz, we got ten seconds left here but really at the heart of this is immigration. What do they do about it? Well, I know we're talking about immigration, Martha, but I really want to address something we talked about previously in terms of Marjorie Greene and that particular caucus and denouncing her. Many Republicans talked about how America wasn't built on these ideas. The reality is this country was built on white supremacy, and the reason why she's supported is because white supremacy is still very much a part of the American fabric so until we can acknowledge that, we're going to constantly be addressing these racial issues -- We'll have to -- we'll have to end there but you made your point.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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