As the race for Illinois’ 10th District seat enters its home stretch, the debate over gun control remains one of the central issues between Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Dold and Democratic challenger Brad Schneider.
On Sept. 16, Schneider tweeted a request for supporters to sign a petition asking Dold to stop blocking a vote on gun safety legislation. On Sept. 27, Schneider's campaign announced that the petition had gained more than 600 signatures. In the text of the petition, Schneider's campaign wrote: "Republican Bob Dold refuses to sign a Congressional petition that would force Speaker Ryan to allow a vote on commonsense gun safety legislation. Instead, Dold continues to side with his Republican leadership and the NRA in blocking consideration of a bill that would keep firearms out of the hands of people on the terrorist watch list."
Let’s unpack that a little bit.
‘No fly, no buy’
At the heart of this claim is the debate surrounding the so-called "No Fly, No Buy" bill, officially known as H.R. 1076. As its title suggests, the bill aims to ban the sale of firearms to people who are on the FBI terrorist watchlist. First introduced in February 2015, the bill has been stalled in Congress since December 2015. Democrats have been using various procedural methods to try to move the bill forward.
Schneider said Dold has refused to sign a congressional petition that would force a vote on H.R. 1076 and "continues to side with… the NRA" in obstructing the bill. We found that claim curious because Dold is one of the co-sponsors of H.R. 1076 and he has received an "F" rating from the National Rifle Association for his voting record on gun rights. The petition to force a vote on it currently has 181 signatures, which is 37 short of the required 218. It is true that Dold did not sign the petition.
Democrats also have used "orders for the previous question" and motions to recommit to try and bring the bill to the floor. Put simply, an "order for the previous question" is a vote on whether or not to change the agenda and consider alternate legislation. A "motion to recommit with instructions forthwith" allows a member of the minority to add an amendment to a piece of legislation just before a vote.
Schneider’s campaign offers a list of 25 instances when the Democrats presented either an order for a previous question or a motion to recommit to bring H.R. 1076 to the floor. (Since they first sent us the list, there have been an additional three orders for a previous question). The campaign points out that in each of these instances, Dold sided with the "Republican leadership and the NRA" in order to block consideration of H.R. 1076.
We looked at each of the 25 instances cited by Schneider’s campaign, and indeed Dold’s voting record was not in favor of bringing H.R. 1076 to the floor for consideration.
However, that is not the full story.
Dold’s gun control record
Dold, who is facing Schneider for the third consecutive time, said Schneider was distorting his record. "While we have all grown accustomed to the shameless lies from Brad Schneider and his campaign, Brad's incredibly dishonest attacks against my record of championing common-sense gun legislation are sadly another example of the worst kind of politics that the 10th District and the American people are completely tired of."
Dold is referring to his record in co-sponsoring the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act, as well as his co-sponsorship of the aforementioned H.R. 1076. He has also spoken on the House floor in favor of reducing gun violence following the Orlando shooting this past summer.
Since part of the claim said Dold was siding with the National Rifle Association, we also looked at the gun lobby’s report card and found Dold received an "F," a grade the NRA uses to label those they consider a "true enemy of gun owner’s rights." Schneider also has got an "F" rating.
However, Schneider spokesman Steven Kirsch, while acknowledging Dold’s co-sponsorship of H.R. 1076, said, "Democrats are using every tool available to try to force a vote on gun safety legislation. But instead of taking action in favor of the legislation he claims to support, Congressman Bob Dold sides time and time again with his Republican Party to prevent even having a vote. … Until Dold shows he is willing to take action alongside those fighting to a get a vote on this critical legislation instead of continuing to side with his party, his words of support remain just that – words."
Some additional caveats
Neither orders for previous questions nor motions to recommit are as clear cut as they first seem.
Both Republicans and Democrats, when they are in the minority, claim that previous questions have "substantive policy implications." At the same time, both call out the opposing majority party for claiming that previous questions are purely procedural votes. So which is it?
We asked Josh Chafetz, a professor of law at Cornell Law School. He confirmed that this can be tricky: "You can't separate procedure and substance, so the votes usually are good proxies for someone's substantive stance, BUT it can be very, very difficult to untangle exactly what the substantive consequences of a particular vote are. ... Basically, without getting deep into the weeds of a particular series of votes, you can't really say definitively what the substantive implications of a vote were."
Similar statements have been made about motions to recommit. In a 2012 interview with PolitiFact Wisconsin, Donald Wolfensberger, who currently is a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center and served as a key Republican staffer in the 1990s, said "both parties, when in the minority, have used (motions to recommit) to make political statements and embarrass the majority for partisan advantage. It is well understood in modern times that these are designed for partisan campaign purposes and usually have little to do with better policy."
Dold has not signed the discharge petition for the "No Fly, No Buy" bill, and his voting record (as demonstrated through previous questions and motions to recommit) has not helped to progress a vote on the bill.
However, there are additional details worth considering that the claim does not mention. Dold is a co-sponsor of the "No Fly, No Buy" bill itself, and his past record has caused the NRA to label him a "true enemy of gun owner’s rights." There also is some ambiguity on the intention behind procedural maneuvers.
The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important information.
We rate it Half True.