Report: Sens. Manchin, Toomey in talks to expand background checks

Senators have renewed efforts to spearhead a bipartisan agreement on expanding background checks, raising hopes a deal can be reached as lawmakers return to Capitol Hill, according to a report in The Washington Post.

Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinChristian voters left wanting in Trump vs Clinton New Guccifer 2.0 dump highlights ‘wobbly Dems’ on Iran deal Senate Dems introduce Iran sanctions extension MORE (W.Va.) and his GOP colleague Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) are working on language that would expand checks on firearm sales at gun shows and over the Internet.

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Their preliminary proposal, still in talks, would exclude gun sales between family members and temporary transfers for those with a hunting license, according to Senate aides close to negotiations, assuaging GOP concerns, the Post first reported Sunday night.

Spokesmen for the senators told the Post that the lawmakers were speaking to their colleagues about their efforts, but declined to confirm details of the plan.

A deal brokered by Manchin and Toomey could bolster the prospects for passing gun control in the Senate. 


Both senators hold strong ratings from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and could play a key role in winning support from red-state Democrats and conservative Republicans wary of backing gun control.

Their talks come as Congress returns from its two-week Easter recess, with Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDems urge Grayson to end Senate bid Reid: Trump is a 'hateful con man' Reid: DNC never gave Sanders a ‘fair deal’ MORE (D-Nev.) poised to move a gun control bill on the Senate floor.

The bill includes language to expand background checks drafted by Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerConvention shows Democrats support fracking, activists on the fringe Dem ad blasts Indiana senate candidate on Social Security The Trail 2016: Unity at last MORE (D-N.Y.) after his efforts to craft a bipartisan proposal fell short. 

GOP lawmakers have expressed concerns that the Schumer plan could create a federal registry of gun owners and make it harder for family members to transfer firearms.

Manchin, along with GOP Sens. Tom CoburnTom CoburnThe Trail 2016: Words matter Ex-Sen. Coburn: I won’t challenge Trump, I’ll vote for him Coburn: I haven't seen 'self-discipline' from Trump MORE (Okla.) and Mark KirkMark KirkTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense NBA pulls All-Star Game from NC over bathroom law GOP groups scale back support for Sen. Johnson MORE (Ill.) worked with Schumer in his efforts on background checks before negotiations stalled, but reports have said the senators have continued to discuss the issue. 

Reid is open to changing the bill’s language if Manchin and Toomey strike a deal, according to aides who spoke to the Post, but it is unclear if the Senate leader would delay moving the bill to give talks more time.

The Senate gun bill also includes provisions to toughen penalties on straw traffickers, which holds bipartisan support and provides more funding for school safety programs.

Expanded background checks are a key element of the gun control measures backed by President Obama in the aftermath of the Newtown Conn., mass shooting in December. Obama has launched a public effort to rally support for gun control, visiting states that have enacted tougher laws in the aftermath of shootings and speaking with families of victims of gun violence.

On Monday, Obama will head to Connecticut to speak at the University of Hartford where he will again press for gun control. The state’s governor last week signed new legislation, implementing some of the strictest gun-ownership laws in the country in response to the school shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children.

But despite polls showing an overwhelming majority support expanding background checks, the measure faces an uphill climb in both the Senate and the GOP-controlled House.

A number of GOP senators, including Sens. Rand PaulRand PaulWhat to watch for on Day 2 at the GOP convention Cyber squatters sitting on valuable VP web addresses Majority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention MORE (Ky.); Mike LeeMike LeeObama signs opioid bill Thiel said to explain support for Trump in convention speech Convention erupts at Cruz snub MORE (Utah); Marco RubioMarco RubioGroups unendorse Grayson after domestic violence allegations Trump postpones Hispanic roundtable Tim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense MORE (Fla.); and Ted CruzTed CruzGrassroots battling establishment on trade at conventions Fixing the disastrous nomination process Attacking Trump for the few sensible things he says is bad strategy MORE (Texas), have threatened to oppose any “vehicle for any additional gun restrictions.”

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyDems urge Obama to release info on Russian links to DNC hack Top senators want details on probe of DNC breach Top Dem Senate hopefuls to skip convention MORE (R-Iowa) is also crafting his own gun-violence bill as an alternative to the Democratic proposal.

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