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 (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US MORE (D-N.Y.) more time to work out a deal with Republicans on legislation to expand background checks to cover private gun sales.

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Schumer is working with Sens. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Worries grow about political violence as midterms approach President Trump’s war on federal waste American patients face too many hurdles in regard to health-care access MORE (R-Okla.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (D-W.Va.) and Mark KirkMark Steven KirkAdvocates push for EpiPens on flights after college student's mid-flight allergic reaction Funding the fight against polio Ex-GOP Sen. Kirk registers to lobby 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 Joseph LeahyPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Democrats grill USDA official on relocation plans that gut research staff Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens 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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyScandal in Puerto Rico threatens chance at statehood Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Democrat: Treasury 'acknowledged the unprecedented process' in Trump tax return rejection 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 Emiel FeinsteinTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations Hillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei 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 Levy BoxerOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Hispanic civil rights icon endorses Harris for president California AG Becerra included in Bloomberg 50 list 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.