Pat Toomey

Senators uncertain how vote on gun bill will swing; co-sponsors look for GOP support

by David Sherfinski-The Washington Times  |  published on April 15, 2013


Lawmakers on both sides of a proposal to expand gun-purchase background checks to sales online and at gun shows said Sunday that they don’t know whether it will pass — a hurdle that, if not cleared, likely would kill the prospects of significant gun control legislation on Capitol Hill.

The circumspect posturing underscores the sensitivity of negotiations on the issue and flies in the face of a long tradition of predetermined outcomes on Capitol Hill, even on high-profile legislation.

“I think it’s an open question as to whether or not we have the votes,” Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican and co-sponsor of the amendment, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think it’s going to be close.”

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said his party hasn’t started formally counting votes on the measure, which was crafted by Mr. Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat.

“We haven’t whipped it,” Mr. Durbin said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I can tell you this: When it gets down to it, we’ve got to ask the basic question, ‘Should we try to keep guns out of the hands of felons and people so mentally unstable they shouldn’t own a firearm?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ Manchin-Toomey is a step in that direction.”

But any measure needs the support of at least a handful of Republicans in order to reach the 60-vote threshold that would quash a filibuster. Sen. Mark Kirk, Illinois Republican, is another co-sponsor of the amendment, and Sen. Susan M. Collins, Maine Republican, said over the weekend that she would support the proposal.

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