Alex Padilla is getting to know the ropes of his new job.
The California senator got into his first Twitter spat with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz this week since arriving in the Senate in January.
The war of words started Tuesday, the same day the Senate Judiciary Committee held its hearing on gun violence.
At the hearing, Padilla, the Democrat who was appointed to fill Vice President Kamala Harris’ seat, made the claim that it’s easier to buy a gun than vote in many states.
“In a majority of states, new voters are able to obtain a rifle quicker than they’re able to cast their first ballot,” he said. “It seems to me we have our priorities entirely backwards when it comes to this — when we make it easier to buy a gun than we do to cast a ballot.”
Cruz tweeted a clip of Padilla’s remarks on Tuesday and called them “demonstrably, laughably false.”
“Find me the Dem that says ‘it’s abusive to require a photo ID to buy a gun!'” Cruz went on. “They ALL say that about voting. (Except for the CA gubernatorial recall….).”
Padilla wrote back, “The thing about facts is that saying something is ‘laughably and demonstrably false’ doesn’t make it so. The fact of the matter is that the GOP is actively pushing measures to make it more difficult to vote, while preventing common sense gun safety reforms that could save lives.”
The Senate hearing Tuesday on proposals for gun control was scheduled before the tragic shooting left 10 dead in Boulder, Colorado, this week. It is unclear whether any of the bills up for consideration — most of them involving more restrictive background checks — would have made a difference in the Colorado case. A 21-year-old man charged with killing eight people in the Atlanta area last week had purchased a 9 mm handgun hours before the murders, prompting advocates to push for longer waiting periods for purchases.
In brief remarks responding to the Colorado shooting, President Joe Biden urged Congress to move quickly to close the loopholes in the background check system and to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines — an effort that would be even more difficult to achieve politically. According to a police affidavit, the Colorado shooter had purchased an assault rifle six days earlier.
“It should not be a partisan issue,” Biden said. “This is an American issue. It will save lives, American lives.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed Tuesday morning to bring to the Senate floor legislation passed by the House that would require background checks for most gun sales and transfers. He said the Senate “must confront a devastating truth” after a lack of congressional action on the issue for almost three decades.
“This Senate will be different,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said a day after a shooting at a crowded Boulder, Colorado, supermarket, killed 10 people, including a police officer. “The Senate is going to debate and address the epidemic of gun violence in this country.”
While a Senate vote on new gun control would be the first in several years, Democrats do not have the votes to pass any significant reform. They are not even united themselves, as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told reporters Tuesday that he opposes the House legislation on background checks.