Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
On Monday, Harry Reid told a disappointed Dianne Feinstein that her assault weapons ban, which passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote, wouldn't be in the gun control legislation Democrats are preparing for the full Senate because it had insufficient support to get past a filibuster. But Thursday night, Reid said in a statement, "I will ensure that a ban on assault weapons, limits to high-capacity magazines, and mental health provisions receive votes" as amendments to the bill.
The bill moving forward now will include the provisions on background checks, school safety, and gun trafficking, Reid said. The universal background check provision was also controversial, passing out of committee on a party-line vote, but Reid signaled that wasn't satisfactory. He is hopeful that negotiations during the upcoming Senate break will lead to a compromise that attracts bipartisan support for the measure, which has overwhelming support from the American public. "In order to be effective," Reid said, "any bill that passes the Senate must include background checks." West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, a member of the National Rifle Association who expressed tepid support for gun control after Newtown, will reportedly lead the compromise effort.
Reid said the legislation will be added to the Senate calendar Thursday night to allow for a vote in early April. After opening debate, the assault weapons ban amendments will be introduced, in line with the Obama administration's continued commitment to keep it alive. But as Reid noted earlier in the week, even using "the most optimistic numbers," Feinstein's amendment had fewer than 40 votes.