Background Checks in Danger of Being Shot Down in the Senate
UPDATE, Monday, April 15, 1:52 p.m.: The New York Times reports that the absence or presence of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who has been out of the Senate as a result of complications from stomach cancer treatments, could prove crucial to whether Harry Reid can secure 60 votes for the background check compromise. Lautenberg supports the legislation.
ORIGINAL POST: Last Thursday, the Senate overcame a filibuster threat and voted 68 to 31 to allow debate on gun legislation that centers on a compromise amendment to expand background checks. But that was just the difficult beginning for the legislation, brokered by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). On Tuesday, the Senate is expected to vote on the amendment, but it lacks a clear path to the 60 votes it needs to head to the House.
Of the 16 Republican senators who voted to allow debate, only three so far—Toomey, Susan Collins (Maine), and Mark Kirk (Ill.)—have signalled they will support the Manchin-Toomey bill. On Sunday, John McCain said he was "very favorably disposed" to it.
Five others—Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), and Roger Wicker (Miss.)—plan to vote against the bill. Johnny Isakson (Tenn.) said he will probably also vote no.
That leaves Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), John Hoeven (N.D.), and Dean Heller (Nev.), as the remaining undecided Republicans from that group. A spokesperson for Heller remained vague on the senator's position, telling the Hill that Heller "will not support any plan that creates a federal gun registry." That's a red herring, though: Manchin-Toomey affirms a ban on a federal gun registry that has been in place since 1986. (Naturally, that hasn't stopped some Republican hardliners from warning of that dire possibility anyway.)