By Alexander Bolton - 02/28/13 09:33 PM EST
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 SchumerCruz's dad: Trump 'would be worse than Hillary Clinton' With Ryan’s blessing, lawmakers press ahead with tax reform talks Big business will never appease the Left MORE (D-N.Y.) more time to work out a deal with Republicans on legislation to expand background checks to cover private gun sales.
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 LeahyJudiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights Overnight Cybersecurity: Voter data breaches spark fraud concerns Overnight Regulation: FDA campaign targets smoking in LGBT community 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 GrassleyJudiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights Reid: Judiciary a 'rubber stamp' for Trump-McConnell Overnight Defense: House panel approves 0B defense bill 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 FeinsteinJudiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights Intel leaders push controversial encryption draft Democrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment 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 BoxerCruz fouls out in Indiana Carter pledges probe of sex assault testimony Senate panel backs B water bill with Flint aid 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.