Two senators involved in talks about expanding background checks said they expect White House aides to brief President Trump this week on potential gun legislation reform.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said White House staff told him they would take a potential gun control plan to Trump this week, likely on Wednesday, and brief him on the status of negotiations.
“They told me … that they hoped to get something, a draft of something they thought would be acceptable to present to him,” Manchin told reporters. “I think that he will start looking at what recommendations they’ve finally come to.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), asked about Manchin’s timeline, said White House staff have told him they intend to brief Trump this week, adding, “At this point, I think the president probably needs to make a decision.”
“What they’ve told me is this week,” he said. “I think they’re at the point where they need to bring the status of negotiations to the president and make some decisions. We’ve made some offers. We’ve put some creative ideas on the table so we’re not coming in and saying universal background checks only or Manchin-Toomey only.”
Spokespeople for the White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
But the decision to offer ideas for potential gun legislation reform comes as the White House has been talking with lawmakers about how to respond to mass shootings in Odessa and El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
Trump called Murphy last month shortly after the El Paso and Dayton shootings, and Manchin met with Trump at the White House on Thursday. But the talks have occurred largely at the staff level, meaning briefing Trump would mark an escalation in the negotiations.
Manchin credited Trump for being “very engaged” in their meeting, which lasted roughly half an hour.
“What you need is a good commonsense bill,” Manchin said, recalling his meeting at the White House on Thursday. “I said, ‘Mr. President, nobody is ever going to believe in the gun world that Donald Trump is a threat to taking my guns away.'”
Trump has floated myriad ideas about how to respond to the mass shootings, ranging from strengthening background checks to studying violent video games to mental health reform. But supporters know they need Trump’s strong public backing if they are going to get background check legislation through a GOP-controlled Senate.
The White House is expected to offer a package of policy responses to the mass shootings but hasn’t yet provided specifics about what that will include. Manchin stressed that he had not been told the potential plan would be released publicly.
Murphy, in a statement and in multiple gaggles with reporters on Monday, suggested he was willing to remain at the table with the White House into next week but that the window for a potential deal was closing.
“I think time is running short to find a compromise on background checks. I’m still negotiating in good faith to find a bipartisan proposal that will expand checks to cover more commercial sales and save lives, and I continue to take the president at his word that he wants the same thing,” he said in a statement.
Murphy added to reporters that background checks would be the most “significant” part of a potential deal but that there was also interest in other things, including “red flag” laws.
“The White House has put some innovative ideas on the table. We’ve put some innovative ideas on the table to try to break the logjam, but we haven’t succeeded yet,” he added.