© Greg Nash
Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State Tell our troops: 'Your sacrifice wasn't in vain' Sunday shows preview: Bombing in Kabul delivers blow to evacuation effort; US orders strikes on ISIS-K MORE (D-Conn.) said on Thursday that he sees a path to a deal with the White House on background checks legislation but cautioned it was too soon to say if they would be able to clinch an agreement.
Murphy, in a statement and in a separate interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, said the White House remains at the table about legislation to expand the number of gun sales that would be subjected to a background check. The gun debate will be at the top of Congress's agenda once it returns next week.
"As we speak, we are in discussions with the White House about just that: legislation that would include significant changes to our background checks system to make sure that more gun sales are subject to background checks. The White House is at the table and I continue to see a path where good legislation emerges that the president supports and can pass the Senate," Murphy said in a statement.
Murphy is locked in negotiations with the White House as well as Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit Overnight Health Care — Presented by Indivior —Pfizer: COVID-19 vaccine safe for young kids MORE (D-W.Va.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.) about what a potential agreement could look like. Murphy acknowledged to The Hill earlier this week that details were scarce, but predicted that he would have a good grasp on the chances of an agreement by the time senators return to Washington on Sept. 9.
If the group is able to get an agreement it would accomplish what has been politically impossible in Washington for years — passing a bill to expand background checks on gun sales. The Senate, then controlled by Democrats, rejected a 2013 proposal from Manchin and Toomey. Only two Republican senators still in office voted for it: Toomey and GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike GOP senator will 'probably' vote for debt limit increase Welcome to ground zero of climate chaos MORE (R-Maine).
But Murphy has put the chances of a deal at less than 50-50. He reiterated on Thursday that he doesn't know if they'll ultimately be able to craft something that Trump will support, but characterized the continued talks as a net positive.
Asked by Mitchell if Trump would shift back to talking about mental health and aligning with the gun lobby, Murphy said, "I wish I knew the answer to that question."
Several Republican senators have dismissed talk of taking up background check legislation after the Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, shootings. Murphy has pointed to Trump's enthusiastic support as crucial to any deal getting 60 votes to pass the Senate.
"It can only pass the Senate if the president supports it, so you know ask me in a couple weeks as to whether the president's interest is sincere," Murphy told MSNBC. "But I think it's good news that we're sitting down and talking about this."