“If the President is in favor of a number of things that he has discussed openly and publicly, and I know that if we pass it, it will become law, I’ll put it on the floor,” McConnell said on the radio show.
In previous comments, Trump has not made clear what kind of measure he would support, which could help explain McConnell’s hesitance to say he will put someone on the floor unless Trump declares he would sign it. Trump said background checks would not have stopped the mass shootings that have roiled the US over the past few years, and declared the US’s gun violence problem a mental health issue.
“I said a few weeks ago that if the President took a position on a bill so that we knew we would actually be making a law and not just having serial votes, I would be happy to put it on the floor and the administration is in the process of studying what they are prepared to support if anything,” McConnell said on the radio program.
McConnell also doesn’t want to cave to pressure from Democrats to take a series of votes on gun control measures that could be politically tricky for GOP senators — especially those up for reelection — unless Trump says he supports the proposals.
After two mass shootings hours apart in August killed 31 people in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, Democratic lawmakers began demanding McConnell take action on long-stalled gun control legislation they argue could help prevent the next massacre.
The Kentucky Republican has previously referred to himself as the “Grim Reaper” for “killing” what he calls the Democrats’ “socialist agenda.” He has blocked legislation that addresses election security, protections for people with preexisting health conditions and people brought to the country as undocumented children and a new system of universal background checks for gun purchases.
McConnell told a Kentucky radio station in August 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. He made no commitments what would come to the Senate floor, but specifically mentioned as possible options under consideration a background checks measure jointly sponsored by Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. He also noted Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut efforts on “red flag” laws.
McConnell also said his conference would vote to fill any Supreme Court vacancy that could occur before the 2020 elections. He criticized Democrats saying they can “whine” about it all they want, contending the precedent is to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year when the Senate is controlled by the opposite party.
CNN’s Manu Raju, Nicky Robertson, Nikki Carvajal, Kevin Liptak and Lauren Fox contributed to this report.