Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainRubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts The VA's woes cannot be pinned on any singular administration Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy MORE (R-Ariz.) on Sunday expressed opposition to possible GOP efforts to filibuster a Senate gun-control measure, saying he did not “understand” the move to block debate.

“I don’t understand it,” said McCain on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “The purpose of the United States Senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand.”

ADVERTISEMENT
“What are we afraid of? Why would we not want… if this issue is as important as all of us think it is, why not take  it to one of the world’s greatest deliberative bodies – that’s one of the greatest exaggerations in history by the way – but you know why not take it up, an amendment and debate. The American people will profit from it,” said the Arizona senator.

“I don’t understand why United States senators want to block debate when the leaders said we could have amendments,” McCain added.

A number of GOP lawmakers, including Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Authorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient GOP feuds with outside group over analysis of tax framework MORE (Ky.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong How the effort to replace ObamaCare failed Overnight Regulation: Trump temporarily lifts Jones Act for Puerto Rico | Bill would exempt some banks from Dodd-Frank | Senators unveil driverless car bill MORE (Utah), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers MORE (Fla.), and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets MORE (Texas) wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Republicans are headed for a disappointing end to their year in power Obama's HHS secretary could testify in Menendez trial MORE (D-Nev.) vowing that they would “oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions.” 

Reid is planning to bring to the Senate floor this month legislation that would expand background checks, toughen penalties on straw purchasers of firearms and provide funding for school safety. But the background checks provisions have attracted opposition from GOP lawmakers after efforts to forge a bipartisan compromise faltered. 

The Senate vote comes as the White House is intensifying effort to pressure Congress to enact gun control, with Obama holding events with families of victims of gun violence and taking his message on the road to states which have experienced mass shootings.

Obama press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday said it would be “shameful” for Republicans to filibuster a gun-control bill.

The Senate measure, though, is unlikely to attract support in the GOP House and Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyRepublicans jockey for position on immigration House clears bill to combat crimes against elderly Grassley: DACA deal wouldn't need border wall funding MORE (R-Iowa) is also readying his own gun-control bill as an alternative to the Democratic proposal. 

Appearing with McCain, Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Crying on TV doesn't qualify Kimmel to set nation's gun agenda Trump knocks ‘fake’ news coverage of his trip to Puerto Rico MORE expressed optimism that if the bill proceeded to the floor, a measure on background checks could pass.

“If we go to the floor, I’m still hopeful that what I call the ‘sweet spot’ background checks can succeed. We are working hard there. Sen. [Joe] Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. [Mark] Kirk [R-Ill.] have a few ideas that could modify the proposal.”

McCain said he would welcome a debate on background checks on the Senate floor.

“Everybody wants the same goal to keep the guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally disabled. Background checks are being conducted. Are they sufficient, are there ways to improve those? Then I think that’s something that the American people and certainly Congress could be helped by if we have a vigorous debate and discussion,” said McCain.