Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told The Hill in an interview on Tuesday that he remains “very hopeful” that the Senate will reconsider and pass a bipartisan bill on background checks that failed to get the 60 votes it needed to move forward earlier this year.
Manchin has said he’s continuing to work behind the scenes to revive the legislation, and is considering cosmetic changes to “clarify” language that some lawmakers were uncomfortable with. For instance, the bill does not require background checks for private gun sales, only commercial sales, but some said the bill didn’t go far enough in delineating that distinction.
However, some conservatives have warned that expanded background checks could lead to a national guns registry – a deal breaker for most Republicans.
The Manchin-Toomey bill specifically outlaws such a registry, but skeptical opponents to the legislation may now point to government usage of private-citizen data at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) as evidence the government can’t be trusted.
The IRS apologized last week for targeting conservative groups, including those with the words “Tea Party” and “patriot” in their names, in determining whether they were eligible for tax-exempt status, and the DOJ is presently embroiled in a controversy over its decision to secretly seize two months of phone records of Associated Press journalists.
“There’s a lot going on and people have to have trust in their government, that’s really what counts,” Manchin said.
But he also said he’s not worried that those controversies will interfere with his gun control push.
“Ours has been truly bipartisan,” he said. “It’s been a bipartisan approach between me and Pat Toomey and all the different people involved can keep it that way and hopefully we can look at the facts and the facts will win out the day.”