Bipartisan Senate working group on gun violence will meet Tuesday
Republican and Democratic senators negotiating over a legislative proposal to respond to mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, will hold a Zoom call Tuesday in hopes of reaching a deal on a basic framework by next week.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who has been tasked by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to negotiate with Democrats, said the talks have been ongoing on the phone and in person.
“We’re already having those discussions in person and on the phone. Look forward to meeting on Tuesday through a Zoom call to try to see if we can agree on a basic framework about how we go forward,” he told reporters in San Antonio Monday.
President Biden on Monday expressed some optimism that Cornyn may strike a deal, praising him as a “rational” policymaker.
“I think Sen. McConnell is a rational Republican. I think Cornyn is as well. I think there’s a recognition in their party that they — we can’t continue like this,” he said, referring to mass shootings at schools and other public places.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the lead Democratic negotiator, says he’ll know by the start of next week whether a framework agreement is likely.
“I’ve done enough of these negotiations that I’ll know by the end of next week whether we’re serious or not,” he said shortly before lawmakers left town for Memorial Day weekend.
A group of eight senators met in Murphy’s Capitol hideaway last week to organize the talks. The group included Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) participated in Thursday’s meeting over the phone.
The group is focused on a proposal to incentivize states to establish red flag laws to prohibit individuals who are deemed dangerous to themselves or others from possessing fire arms.
The senators are also looking at legislation to expand background checks for firearms sales and transfers.
Murphy and Cornyn negotiated expanded background-check requirements last year but the discussions fizzled in June after Murphy said his GOP counterpart “wouldn’t budge” on the definition of a commercial gun seller.