Report: Sen. Collins to vote for expanding background checks

Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) says she will vote in favor of a bipartisan compromise on expanding background checks on gun purchasers, according to a report.

Collins in an interview with NBC News called the measure crafted by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) “reasonable” and said she had reviewed the actual language of the proposal.

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The Maine senator, who is up for reelection in 2014, acknowledged that her support is “not a popular thing in my state.” 

Collins told NBC that she would not have backed a proposal for universal background checks and believed the compromise rightly excluded gun transfers between family members.

Collins along with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are the only Republicans to publicly say they will vote in favor of the deal crafted by Toomey and Manchin. 

Toomey last week said he was unsure if he could find the 60 votes to make the deal law. 

“I think we got a few voting hurdles and I don’t know how they will turn out,” he said in an interview.

Collins is one of 16 Republicans who voted on Thursday to open debate on a gun control measure in the Senate, helping to overcome threats from some GOP senators to filibuster the measure.

The vote came after Manchin and Toomey reached their bipartisan agreement on expanding background checks to all gun show and internet sales. 

Earlier efforts at a deal had faltered and the Senate gun bill included a Democratic proposal from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the issue, which Republicans said they would block over concerns it could create a federal database of gun owners.

The Manchin-Toomey deal, though, could bring support from centrist Republicans and red state Democrats, bolstering the Senate bill’s chances of passage.

The bill also contains a bipartisan measure to increase penalties on straw traffickers and additional funding for school safety. 

Collins also discussed speaking with families of victims of the Newtown shooting last week, a meeting which led her to be late for a White House dinner with President Obama and fellow GOP senators.

“I was willing to make the choice to be late for the president in order to meet with the grieving families,” Collins told NBC.

Victims’ families and gun-control advocates led by the White House have made a public push to rally lawmaker support for the Senate gun violence bill. But it faces a long road, with a lengthy amendment process ahead and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declining to commit to a vote on the Senate gun bill.