GOP dissent with expanded background checks grows
WASHINGTON — A bipartisan proposal to expand background checks to more gun buyers seemed in jeopardy on Monday as a growing number of Republican senators expressed opposition to the proposal, perhaps enough to derail it. But there was plenty of time for lobbying and deal-making to affect the outcome, which remained uncertain.
The White House said President Obama was calling lawmakers, as both sides hunted support for a nail-biting showdown.
By Monday evening, some senators were saying the vote now appeared likely late this week, rather than midweek as top Democrats have hoped. Such a delay would give both sides more time to find support.
“The game hasn't even started yet, let alone over,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who reached a background-check compromise last week with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh County, on which the Senate was preparing to vote.
At stake is what has become the heart of this year's gun control drive in response to December's killing of children and staff at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Supporters consider a broadening of the buyers subjected to background checks to be the most effective step lawmakers can take, and Obama urged near-universal checks in the plan he introduced in January.
Sixteen Republicans voted last week to reject an effort that would have blocked the Senate from even considering a broad bill restricting firearms. With that debate under way, Democrats hope to win enough supporters from this group to gain passage of the first amendment to that bill — the compromise between Manchin and Toomey, which expands background checks but less broadly than Obama has wanted.
Eight Republican senators from that group said they would oppose the Manchin-Toomey plan, and two were leaning against it. Combined with the 31 senators who voted against debating the overall gun bill last week, that would bring potential opponents of expanding background checks to 41 — just enough votes to block the Senate from considering the compromise.
“I'm not going to vote for it. It's not the right thing to do,” said Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., who was among the 16 who voted last week to allow the debate to begin.
Opponents say expanded checks would violate the Constitution's right to bear arms and would be ignored by criminals. They are forcing supporters of the background check plan to win 60 of the Senate's 100 votes, a high hurdle.
Fifty Democrats and two Democratic-leaning senators voted last week to begin debate. If all of them support the Manchin-Toomey plan, they would need eight more votes.
So far, three Republicans who backed beginning debate have said they will vote for the Manchin-Toomey plan: Toomey and Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine. A fourth, John McCain of Arizona, said he is strongly inclined to do so.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., missed last week's vote after saying he was suffering from muscle weakness, but spokesman Caley Gray said he hopes to be in the Senate for votes this week.
Two Democrats, both up for re-election next year in GOP-leaning states, voted against beginning the gun-control debate last week. Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas said they are still deciding.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Reagan shooter Hinckley closer to permanent freedom
- New York City rent increases oust small retailers
- Gas pipeline explosion probed at California gun range
- GOP invokes Benghazi, Obama in ripping Clinton
- Scientists: Oil spill has harmed health of Gulf of Mexico
- Ohio woman finds mother, sister — at work
- Dementia patients’ rights considered
- Keystone pipeline project gains favor among nearby liberals, study shows
- Public access to police body cam videos assailed
- FBI unit supplied flawed forensics
- Federal judge who blocked Obama immigration order painted as unbiased