Cornyn walks out on bipartisan talks on gun safety bill, says 'I'm through talking'

Texas Republican and other senators have been working for about three weeks trying to agree on a bill

Updated: June 17, 2022 - 4:30pm

Sen. John Cornyn, the Republicans’ top negotiator in a bipartisan effort to draft gun-safety legislation, abruptly left negotiations Thursday and returned to home state Texas, saying, "I'm through talking."

Cornyn and the other senators have been working for about three weeks trying to agree on a bill – in the aftermath of two mass shootings last month that killed a total 31 people. 

The group has narrowed its goals in trying to pass such legislation by attempting to agree on just two matters – tightening the so-called "boyfriend loophole" and incentivizing U.S. states to implement violence-prevention programs.

However, the sides have stalled in trying to agree on either one or both, amid President Biden’s disappointment they cannot do more legislatively to curb gun violence in the U.S.  

"It's fish or cut bait," Cornyn said after hours of negotiations Thursday that included fellow GOP Sen. Thom Tillis and Democrat Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Chris Murphy, his party’s top negotiator. 

"I don't know what they have in mind, but I'm through talking," he also said.

Closing the boyfriend loophole would address the issue that while married partners who perpetrate domestic abuse are barred from purchasing guns unmarried partners are not.

Negotiators are reportedly struggling with how to identify "boyfriend" or partner in an unmarried relationship.

The Senate was out of session Friday and does not return until Tuesday, with time running out to make a deal.

Members leave June 27 for a two-week recess and are scheduled to leave soon after for their annual August break.

Passing a bill this time of year is historically challenging because of Congress being out of session for large parts of the summer. But such efforts will be especially challenging this year with midterm elections and members focused on campaigning to keep their seats in November. 

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