There’s a bit of a showdown over gun rights in the Iowa House. Democrats accuse Republicans of a “double-cross” and the 40 House Democrats have walked out of the statehouse in protest rather than debate two gun-related proposals today.
Democrats say they were led to believe the bills would not be debated today. House Republican Leader Linda Upmeyer disputes that account.
“None of that is accurate,” Upmeyer told reporters this morning.
House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy said Democrats are standing up against a Republican bid to “abuse their power” and add “extremist” gun rights language to the state constitution that will “turn Iowa into the Wild, Wild West.”
Upmeyer said the proposal cleared a House committee and was included on the list of items eligible for debate today.
“So I don’t know how they were double-crossed,” Upmeyer said. “…I just don’t know what the surprise is.”
House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, the top Republican in the legislature, said he does not intend to debate without Democrats present.
“We have 100 members here. They represent 30,000 people each,” Paulsen said. “I think the preferred method is to have them here. I don’t know why the Democrats left the building over a fundamental constitutional right (to keep & bear arms, which is what the resolution at the center of this controversy addresses) and having a debate on that, but hopefully they’ll be back here in a reasonable time and we can move forward with the debate.”
Paulsen hasn’t talked with the Democrats’ leader.
“We’ve got a responsibility to run the institution and he does, too,” Paulsen said, “so I would assume he will let me know his plan at some point in time.”
Paulsen told reporters it is “absolutely ridiculous” to suggest Republicans “double-crossed” Democrats in the House. He added that Iowans expect lawmakers to “go to work” — suggesting a walk-out would not be popular with the public. The chair of the Iowa Democratic Party issued a written statement of support, saluting her fellow Democrats in the House for their action.