By Bob Cusack - 04/15/13 09:00 AM EDT
A bipartisan bill on background checks is inching closer to the necessary 60 votes for passage, but it still has a long way to go.
The upcoming vote on a new proposal crafted by Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinNew Guccifer 2.0 dump highlights ‘wobbly Dems’ on Iran deal Senate Dems introduce Iran sanctions extension Overnight Finance: Senate punts on Zika funding | House panel clears final spending bill | Biz groups press Treasury on tax rules | Obama trade rep confident Pacific deal passes this year MORE (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is expected to go down to the wire. The Hill on Friday contacted many Senate offices to find out their positions on the amendment, which is strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
There are a dozen other Republicans who voted for a motion to proceed on the gun control bill last week, including Sens. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteClinton brings in the heavy hitters Kasich doesn't regret skipping convention Top GOP senator: Trump will have little effect on Senate races MORE (N.H.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeVulnerable GOP senators praise Kaine GOP Sen. Flake offers Trump rare praise Booker denounces ‘lock her up' chants MORE (Ariz.), Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissWyden hammers CIA chief over Senate spying Cruz is a liability Inside Paul Ryan’s brain trust MORE (Ga.), Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonClinton set to break ceiling GOP senators to donors: Stick with us regardless of Trump Can Congress tackle chronic illness in Medicare patients? MORE (Ga.), Roger WickerRoger WickerTop GOP senator: Trump will have little effect on Senate races GOP senators to donors: Stick with us regardless of Trump Majority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention MORE (Miss.) and Dean HellerDean HellerSenators offer bill removing hurdles to offering stock options Six senators call on housing regulator to let Congress finish housing finance reform Majority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention MORE (Nev.).
Flake on Friday was reviewing the bill, while Heller's office said the senator "will not support any plan that creates a federal gun registry." Corker "would not support Toomey-Manchin as written but is open to supporting amendments to achieve what he believes is the central issue: preventing violence by dangerous, mentally ill people," according to a Monday statement from his office. Chambliss has made it clear that he opposes the underlying gun control bill that is headed to the Senate floor. Wicker said on C-SPAN Monday morning that he is opposed to the Manchin-Toomey amendment.
To pass Manchin-Toomey, at least five Republicans must back it. Fifty-five senators caucus with the Democrats, but not all are sure bets to embrace the background check legislation.
Sens. Mark PryorMark PryorCotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Top Democrats are no advocates for DC statehood MORE (D-Ark.) and Mark BegichMark BegichSenate GOP deeply concerned over Trump effect Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Unable to ban Internet gambling, lawmakers try for moratorium MORE (D-Alaska) last week voted against the motion to proceed to the gun control debate. Both are up for reelection next year and support gun rights.
Centrist Democrats who are expected to vote for Manchin-Toomey are Sens. Bob CaseyBob CaseyLiberal group: Kaine could be 'disastrous' VP pick New Guccifer 2.0 dump highlights ‘wobbly Dems’ on Iran deal Senate Dems push Obama for more Iran transparency MORE Jr. (Pa.), Kay HaganKay HaganDNC event calendar 10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2016 Senate Republicans are feeling the 'Trump effect' MORE (N.C.), Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonFormer GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting Housing groups argue Freddie Mac's loss should spur finance reform On Wall Street, Dem shake-up puts party at crossroads MORE (S.D.), Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellyOvernight Finance: Senate punts on Zika funding | House panel clears final spending bill | Biz groups press Treasury on tax rules | Obama trade rep confident Pacific deal passes this year Overnight Healthcare: Lawmakers leave for summer without approving new Zika funds Dems block defense spending bill for second time MORE (Ind.), Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillWatchdog faults Energy Department over whistleblower retaliation Wagner passes on NRCC bid, backs Stivers Senate Dem: Trump will pick 'handsome' Pence MORE (Mo.) and Mark WarnerMark WarnerDNC event calendar Liberal group: Kaine could be 'disastrous' VP pick Buzz grows that Tim Kaine will be Clinton's VP pick MORE (Va.).
But Democrats who declined to comment or didn't say definitively where they stand on Manchin-Toomey include Sens. Max BaucusMax BaucusGlover Park Group now lobbying for Lyft Wyden unveils business tax proposal College endowments under scrutiny MORE (Mont.), Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampFeds weigh minimum train crew sizes Senate Dems push Obama for more Iran transparency Emerging technology-based consensus may help clear the air MORE (N.D.) and Mary LandrieuMary Landrieu oil is changing the world and Washington Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Republican announces bid for Vitter’s seat MORE (La.). Baucus and Landrieu are seeking reelection in 2014 and are top GOP targets.
Meanwhile, some Republicans who broke ranks to proceed to the gun control bill are opposed to Manchin-Toomey, such as Sens. Tom CoburnTom CoburnThe Trail 2016: Words matter Ex-Sen. Coburn: I won’t challenge Trump, I’ll vote for him Coburn: I haven't seen 'self-discipline' from Trump MORE (Okla.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamVulnerable GOP senators praise Kaine Meghan McCain: ‘I no longer recognize my party’ Ex-UN ambassador John Bolton: Trump should take back NATO remarks MORE (S.C.), Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderGOP senators to donors: Stick with us regardless of Trump Overnight Healthcare: Mysterious new Zika case | Mental health bill in doubt | Teletraining to fight opioids Hopes dim for mental health deal MORE (Tenn.), Richard BurrRichard BurrThe Trail 2016: Putting the past behind them The Hill's 12:30 Report Burr pledges to retire after one more Senate term MORE (N.C.) and John HoevenJohn HoevenMajority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention Death threats against senators remained on Twitter for 2 weeks Senate panel approves funding boost for TSA MORE (N.D.).
Isakson said on MSNBC last week it is "doubtful" he will back Manchin-Toomey. Graham told the Huffington Post he is "not a big fan of background checks."
Coburn is planning to offer his own background check amendment, which could alter the political dynamics of the debate by giving on-the-fence Republicans a chance to vote for some type of background check bill.
During a Sunday appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," McCain said he is "favorably disposed" to Manchin-Toomey. On the same show, Toomey stopped short of predicting victory, saying, "I think it's going to be close." McCain's backing could have an effect on Flake, the undecided freshman senator from Arizona.
Collins told NBC News Sunday she believes the Manchin-Toomey plan, which is backed by President Obama, is "reasonable."
Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerThe Trail 2016: Unity at last This week: Congress eyes the exits in dash to recess Former Gillibrand aide wins NY House primary MORE (D-N.Y.) on ABC's "This Week" noted that not all the Republicans who voted to debate gun control will vote "yes" on Manchin-Toomey, adding it will be a "tough fight" to get to 60 votes. Schumer has called background checks the "sweet spot" of gun control.
During an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Senate Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinDNC event calendar Opioid package clears key Senate hurdle Overnight Healthcare: Feds defend ObamaCare's affordability MORE (D-Ill.) said he has not yet whipped Manchin-Toomey.
If Manchin-Toomey falters, it would be a huge win for the NRA and a major setback for Obama. Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) will introduce a companion bill to Manchin-Toomey in the GOP-led House, but its chances of getting to the president's desk are remote if the Senate rejects it.
Obama has also called for Congress to pass an assault-weapons ban, but that bill has no chance of passing the House and Senate.
—Noura Alfadi-Andreasson and Alex Lazar contributed to this article, which was last updated at 12:10 p.m.