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 SchumerHow Trump can score a big league bipartisan win on infrastructure Overnight Finance: Dems introduce minimum wage bill | Sanders clashes with Trump budget chief | Border tax proposal at death's door GOP senators distance themselves from House ObamaCare repeal bill 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 Coburn'Path of least resistance' problematic for Congress Freedom Caucus saved Paul Ryan's job: GOP has promises to keep Don't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC MORE (R-Okla.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinConvicted ex-coal exec appeals case to Supreme Court Sanders, Democrats introduce minimum wage bill Overnight Energy: Trump energy nominees face Congress | OPEC to extend production cuts MORE (D-W.Va.) and Mark KirkMark KirkTaking the easy layup: Why brain cancer patients depend on it The Mideast-focused Senate letter we need to see The way forward on the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump 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 LeahyTrump’s travel ban would not have prevented an attack like Manchester Lawmakers reintroduce measure to lift Cuba travel restrictions Majority of Senate supports Cuban tourism bill 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 GrassleyDems plot recess offensive on ObamaCare The case for protecting America's intelligence agency whistleblowers Senate confirms Trump's first lower-court nominee 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 FeinsteinThe case for protecting America's intelligence agency whistleblowers Senate confirms Trump's first lower-court nominee Feinstein: Comey memos 'going to be turned over' 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 BoxerTime is now to address infrastructure needs Tom Steyer testing waters for Calif. gubernatorial bid Another day, another dollar for retirement advice rip-offs 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.