Prospects for Trump gun deal grow dimmer

Prospects for a bipartisan deal on gun control legislation have dimmed significantly as President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE and Democratic leaders appear to be far apart on the key issue of expanding background checks.

Republicans expect Trump to put forward a proposal addressing gun violence later this week, but Democrats predict it is likely to fall far short of what is needed and that they may not vote for it.

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Democrats are pressing Trump to agree to a gun control bill already approved by the House, but the president has yet to even signal support for a scaled-down background check bill sponsored by Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinHillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court cancels shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline | US could avoid 4.5M early deaths by fighting climate change, study finds | Officials warn of increasing cyber threats to critical infrastructure during pandemic Officials warn of increasing cyber threats to critical infrastructure during pandemic MORE (D-W.Va.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyDunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel GOP senators push for quick, partial reopening of economy NSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show MORE (R-Pa.).

“I don’t think anyone thinks he’s going to endorse the Toomey bill, which is weaker than the House bill,” said a senior Democratic aide, expressing growing doubt on Capitol Hill that Trump will strike a bipartisan deal.

As a result, the likelihood that Congress will fail to take action on gun violence a month after a new spate of shootings across the country appears to be growing.

Republicans say the political momentum within their party to expand background checks suffered a blow last week when Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke declared, “hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15s, your AK-47s” at Thursday’s primary debate.

It was a big moment for O’Rourke’s campaign, but it underscored long-standing arguments from gun rights proponents that Democratic efforts on gun control are really aimed at the confiscation of firearms.

“This rhetoric undermines and hurts bipartisan efforts to actually make progress on commonsense gun safety efforts, like expanding background checks,” Toomey, who has been at the center of Senate negotiations, warned Friday.

It’s still possible the two parties could agree on some lower-hanging measures.

White House officials last week floated the idea of a new smartphone app that would be connected to the National

Instant Criminal Background Check System, which could be used to conduct background checks for sales between individuals who are not licensed dealers.

But it will be difficult for Democrats to agree to that proposal if it is a high watermark of what can be accepted by Republicans.

Manchin dismissed the idea of the smartphone app.

“The app’s crazy, totally crazy,” he said, arguing that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System works well as it is. “We have something that’s not broken, and they want to fix it and throw something at it. To throw that into a bill would be wrong.”

Similarly, Democrats are signaling that just passing “red flag” legislation that would empower law enforcement officials to confiscate firearms from people judged to be dangerous is not enough.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerIn the next relief package Congress must fund universal COVID testing Ocasio-Cortez's 2nd grade teacher tells her 'you've got this' ahead of DNC speech New poll shows Markey with wide lead over Kennedy in Massachusetts MORE (D-N.Y.) argued on the Senate floor Monday that without an expansion of background check requirements, even a person who had his or her firearm confiscated by the police could immediately purchase another one from an individual who is not a federally licensed dealer.

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling Democrat calls on White House to withdraw ambassador to Belarus nominee Democrats try to force Trump to boost medical supplies production MORE (D-Conn.), a key negotiator who has had discussions with Trump on gun control, told reporters that the president needed to give them an affirmative sign by the end of last week in order to keep momentum from dying in Congress.

“My worry is that the forces inside the White House that are representing the gun lobby may be prevailing,” Murphy told reporters Monday. “I think that’s a shame.”

“They told us we would hear back by Thursday and we didn’t hear anything on Thursday or Friday or Saturday or Sunday,” he added. “Silence is probably indicative that they’re not willing to move.”

Manchin also sounded a pessimistic note.

“I haven’t heard back from their staff,” said Manchin, who panned the idea of creating a new smartphone app to conduct background checks.

Senate Republican Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump plans to accept Republican nomination from White House lawn Hillicon Valley: 'Fortnite' owner sues Apple after game is removed from App Store | Federal agencies seize, dismantle cryptocurrency campaigns of major terrorist organizations Republican senators call on FTC to investigate TikTok over data collection concerns MORE (S.D.) said Monday afternoon that Trump is still reviewing his options, and a senior Republican aide said the White House is expected to present a plan to GOP leaders later this week.

“I think they’re looking at that and a whole range of issues, but I don’t think they’ve come to any conclusions,”

Thune, who met with Trump last week, said when asked about the prospect of the president endorsing expanded background checks.

Still, as more days pass without progress, gun control advocates in the Senate are growing increasingly pessimistic.

“It’s typical of the president and his statements on controversial issues. He’s on the side of the American people until he’s on the side of the special interest,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Negotiators signal relief bill stuck, not dead White House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders MORE (Ill.).

Conservatives are already warning the White House and GOP leaders of a backlash from gun rights advocates if Trump endorses a proposal to expand background checks to all online and gun show sales, as envisioned by the Manchin-Toomey bill.

“If Republicans abandon the Second Amendment and demoralize millions of Americans who care deeply about Second Amendment rights, that could go a long way to electing a President Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Energy: Major oil companies oppose Trump admin's methane rollback | Union files unfair labor practice charge against EPA USPS inspector general reviewing DeJoy's policy changes Former Obama speechwriter Favreau: 'Hilarious' some media outlets calling Harris a moderate MORE,” Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhat Biden must do to keep his lead and win Fiorina: Biden picking Harris for VP 'a smart choice' Russian news agency pushed video of Portland protestors burning a Bible: report MORE (R-Texas) warned last week, referring to the liberal Massachusetts senator, who is running for president.

A senior Republican aide on Monday expressed skepticism that Trump will endorse legislation that would significantly expand background checks, such as the Manchin-Toomey bill or the universal background check measure passed by the House in February.

In a call on Sunday with Schumer and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCongress exits with no deal, leaving economists flabbergasted Trump says he'll sign USPS funding if Democrats make concessions Pelosi calls Trump attacks on mail-in voting a 'domestic assault on our Constitution' MORE (D-Calif.), Trump made no commitment on the House bill, according to two officials familiar with the call.

Jordain Carney contributed.