Three Senate sources told the Washington Free Beacon that the House's impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump has stalled efforts to pass new gun control laws.
"Hard to imagine Trump doing a signing ceremony of anything with Speaker Pelosi at his side, and Democrats are the only ones agitating for gun control," one staffer told the Free Beacon on Wednesday.
The inquiry, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.) officially labeled an impeachment investigation, will consume Washington for the weeks and months ahead, according to the sources. They also said it will be difficult to move key legislative priorities like a reworked North American trade deal and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, not to mention a passable gun control package.
"I think the impeachment stuff sucks up all the oxygen," a second Senate staffer told the Free Beacon.
A third Senate staffer said gun control was something that wouldn’t be on the front burner at least "for a while" and that some staffers had already begun preparing for how to handle impeachment proceedings should they come.
"Policy and legal staffers got quick reminders in impeachment procedures yesterday but that doesn't mean anything," the staffer told the Free Beacon. "It's more like, 'well, if it happens, we better be ready.'"
Gun control activists and members of the media have applied immense public pressure to pass new gun control measures in the wake of mass shootings last month in Texas and Ohio. However, while polling has shown support for some of the measures pursued by gun control advocates, that support has declined even in polls taken shortly after the shootings.
Additionally, calls by gun control groups and Democratic politicians alike to confiscate tens or even hundreds of millions of firearms from Americans have complicated efforts by the White House to find a workable gun package.
The impeachment inquiry may have ended any hope to find a gun bill that could pass in the near term.
"I'm hoping that these things can be compartmentalized and that we can continue to pursue policy that I’ve been advocating," Senator Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) told Politico. "But I acknowledge that a lot of clamoring for impeachment is not helpful. It makes it more difficult."
Some senators are still holding out hope for something to get done, and White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland, who floated the idea of a universal background check system on Capitol Hill to a frosty reception last week, told Politico the White House is still working to find a way forward.
Despite the dim prospects a new gun control package currently faces in the Senate, sources said the impasse is not necessarily permanent.
"Things can always change on a dime as happened this week," the second Senate staffer told the Free Beacon.