Senate to vote on two gun bills

The Senate will vote Thursday afternoon on two separate gun bills intended to block suspected terrorists from purchasing guns.

It’s not clear whether either has the 51 votes needed to survive, though the votes are expected to be close.

{mosads}The first measure, spearheaded by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), is a bipartisan measure aimed at reaching a breakthrough on an issue that has sparked debate throughout Congress and led to a daylong sit-in on the House floor by Democrats that ended earlier on Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier this week promised a vote to Collins on her legislation, but what he unveiled during a Republican lunch meeting Thursday is not what Collins had in mind.

Instead of scheduling a procedural vote to give the Collins amendment a chance to be added to an underlying appropriations bill now on the floor, McConnell has set up a vote to table her legislation, which would discard it.

A visibly disappointed Collins said the GOP conference at lunch discussed a motion “to table my amendment, which I believe the majority leader will offer.”

Democratic leaders this week had announced their support for the Collins measure, and six Republicans have pledged public support for her bill.

But McConnell’s move will put pressure on Republicans to vote against it.

Political momentum for the bill shifted Tuesday when the National Rifle Association, one of the most powerful special-interest groups in Washington, came out against Collins’s bill.

The second bill, sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), is meant to respond to concerns from Republican senators that the Collins bill does too little to protect the due process rights of prospective gun purchasers.

The Senate will also vote on whether to table the Johnson measure, which is largely drawn from a measure sponsored by Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas) that failed earlier in the week.

“Then there’s going to be a new proposal that I’ve just been given the language on that Sen. Cornyn’s going to offer,” Collins said after leaving the lunch.

Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.), who all face tough reelection battles this fall, support the Collins legislation.

Democrats accused the GOP leader of backing out on his pledge to Collins.

“They’re going to give the Collins amendment a fake vote called a motion to table that won’t do a single thing to make the proposal law,” Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking member of the Democratic leadership, said on the floor. 

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