WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Loretta Lynch defended President Barack Obama’s executive actions curbing guns before Congress on Wednesday, telling lawmakers that the president took lawful steps to stem firearms violence that kills and injures tens of thousands of Americans yearly.

“I have complete confidence that the common sense steps announced by the president are lawful,” Lynch told the Senate Appropriations Committee panel that oversees the Justice Department. Early in an election year in which both parties seem ready to make guns a political issue, Lynch called Obama’s moves “well-reasoned measures, well within existing legal authorities, built on work that’s already underway.”

The modest steps Obama announced two weeks ago were immediately attacked by a top Republican, who said the measures were the latest of the president’s actions infringing on the constitutional right to own guns and exceeding his executive branch powers.

“The department is on notice,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the subcommittee, told Lynch. “This subcommittee will have no part in undermining the Constitution and the rights that it protects.”