Senate panel delays gun bill markup for 1 week

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday delayed a markup of gun violence legislation for one week, giving lawmakers more time to strike a deal on background checks.

The delay appeared intended to give Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSo what if banks push fancy cards? Give consumers the steak they want Ted Cruz: Warren could beat Trump in 2020 Dem lawmakers use Tax Day to call for release of Trump's returns MORE (D-N.Y.) more time to work out a deal with Republicans on legislation to expand background checks to cover private gun sales.

ADVERTISEMENT
Schumer is working with Sens. Tom CoburnTom CoburnFreedom Caucus saved Paul Ryan's job: GOP has promises to keep Don't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC Coburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential MORE (R-Okla.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPicking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Manchin: Trump should make his clothes in West Virginia Sanders supporter to run against red-state Democrat MORE (D-W.Va.) and Mark KirkMark KirkThe way forward on the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump ObamaCare repeal bill would defund Planned Parenthood Leaked ObamaCare bill would defund Planned Parenthood MORE (R-Ill.) to reach an agreement that can muster 60 votes on the Senate floor.

A sticking point in the talks has been the question of whether to require records of private gun sales. Republicans worry this could lead to a national gun registry and infringe on the privacy of gun owners.

Jessica Brady, a Democratic spokeswoman, said Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyLawmakers talk climate for Earth Day, Science March Poll: Sanders most popular senator in the US Senate Dems offer bill to restore internet privacy rules MORE (D-Vt.) decided to hold off on the markup. She said Leahy was delaying work "on behalf of members" and noted that Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley: Another Supreme Court vacancy likely this summer Sweeping change at DOJ under Sessions Trump's military actions show departure from 'America first' talk MORE (R-Iowa) had expressed concerns in his opening remarks.

However, Schumer does not have a deal with Republican senators on background checks for private sales of guns, and delaying the markup would give those lawmakers more time to negotiate. 

Republicans said they had nothing to do with the delay. 

A GOP aide said Grassley, the ranking Republican on the panel, had expressed concern about judicial nominees and did not ask for a postponement of the gun bills.

“Republicans did not hold over the gun legislation, Republicans only asked to hold over the nominees. Sen. Leahy held over the bills himself,” said Beth Levine, a spokeswoman for Grassley

The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled Thursday to mark up a renewal of the federal assault weapons ban, sponsored by Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinHotel industry details plans to fight Airbnb Congress needs a do-over on fraud-laden 'Immigrant Investor' program Ginsburg appears to refer to Graham as one of 'the women of the Senate' MORE (D-Calif.), as well as legislation sponsored by Leahy to combat the straw purchase of firearms, and a measure introduced by Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerAnother day, another dollar for retirement advice rip-offs Carly Fiorina 'certainly looking at' Virginia Senate run Top Obama adviser signs with Hollywood talent agency: report MORE (D-Calif.) to increase federal grants for school safety. 

Feinstein's assault weapons ban is expected to pass the committee but will likely fail on the Senate floor because of staunch opposition from Republicans and lack of support from Democrats running for reelection next year in conservative-leaning states. 

The centerpiece of the gun-violence package is the expansion of background checks, a top priority of President Obama. 

Schumer has described background checks as the "sweet spot" for a bipartisan deal on gun safety. 

But many Republicans are skeptical of expanding background checks, which the National Rifle Association, a powerful interest group, opposes. 

Coburn over the weekend disputed a report that he and Schumer are close to a deal.

"I don't think we're that close to a deal," Coburn said on Fox News Sunday. 

— Published at 10:46 a.m. and updated at 4:33 p.m. The headline was changed to reflect new information.