Manchin: Senate not done with background check legislation

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Wednesday said he expects the Senate to vote again soon on his proposal to expand background checks for gun sales.

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Manchin said he would not support any effort to weaken the central provision requiring background checks for firearms sold at gun shows and over the Internet.

His comments, along with a statement delivered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday, signal Democrats believe they can persuade a handful of Republicans to drop their opposition to the measure.

“It’s a good piece of legislation. And the more people read it, I think they’ll be more comfortable,” said Manchin.

But he would not support any changes that weaken his plan to expand background checks.

“I’m not going to sign on if we have to create a so-called hole in the gun shows or Internet,” he said.

Manchin said he would be willing to better define some of the bill’s language, however, and plans to sit down with Republican colleagues in the days ahead to explore revisions.

On Tuesday, the measure failed in the Senate by a vote of 54-46, short of the necessary 60. A handful of Democrats voted against it and only four Republicans supported the measure, which is backed by the White House.

Manchin thinks the amendment would have won 70 votes if the National Rifle Association had not warned senators that supporting it would be factored into their scorecard rating.

Manchin’s partner, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), has said he is ready to move on to economic issues.

"I did the best I could. I wish it had passed, but the Senate has spoken and these things happen," Toomey told The Morning Call, a publication covering the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.

"We have a lot of other issues we have to deal with," Toomey said. "Chief among them is getting our fiscal house in order. I'll be getting back to that," Toomey said.

Manchin said he expects Toomey to remain involved in promoting expanded background checks.

“Pat stood tall and strong and came out and I appreciated it, and we’ll just continue to work hard,” he said. “I assume that we have ownership whether [we] like it or not.”

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) said he thought it unlikely Manchin-Toomey would receive another vote on the Senate floor before the Senate leaves for a weeklong recess on April 26.

"Unless there's some change of heart from the members that indicates a change of heart, I think it's unlikely," he said.

—This report was updated at 2:19 p.m.