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 ManchinOvernight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Overnight Energy: Volkswagen reaches .7B settlement over emissions Senators rally for coal miner pension fix 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 AyotteSenator calls for pause in accepting Syrian refugees after Istanbul attack GOP Senate super-PAC reserves M in airtime Pollster: Clinton leads in 5 battlegrounds MORE (N.H.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeGOP senator: Trump could lose Arizona McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote 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 IsaksonSenate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico GOP senators: Obama bathroom guidance is 'not appropriate' Amateur theatrics: An insult to Africa MORE (Ga.), Roger WickerRoger WickerMenendez rails against Puerto Rico bill for 4 hours on floor Rubio will run for reelection Lawmakers push first responder network on rural service MORE (Miss.) and Dean HellerDean HellerGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Long past time to fix evidence-sharing across borders Obama's great internet giveaway 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 PryorEx-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Top Democrats are no advocates for DC statehood Ex-Sen. Landrieu joins law and lobby firm 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 CaseyThe Hill's 12:30 Report Dems launch new effort on guns after Orlando carnage New bill would ban gun sales to those convicted of hate crimes MORE Jr. (Pa.), Kay HaganKay Hagan10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2016 Senate Republicans are feeling the 'Trump effect' Washington's lobby firms riding high 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: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Senate Democrats block Zika agreement ahead of recess Post Orlando, hawks make a power play MORE (Ind.), Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillVA opposes bill aimed at helping vets in mustard gas experiments Blame game begins on Zika funding Overnight Tech: Obama heads back to Silicon Valley | FCC meeting preview | Yahoo bans terror content | Zuckerberg on sit-in live streams MORE (Mo.) and Mark WarnerMark WarnerOvernight Cybersecurity: Calls grow for encryption panel Homeland Security Committee pushes encryption commission in new report The Hill's 12:30 Report 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 HeitkampGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns Senators roll out bipartisan gun proposal 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 CoburnCoburn: I haven't seen 'self-discipline' from Trump McCain: No third-party foes coming for Trump Tough choice for vulnerable GOP senators: Embrace or reject Trump MORE (Okla.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamSenate panel passes bill that would create 4K visas for Afghans Trump: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office Defense contingency misuse threatens national security MORE (S.C.), Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderBipartisan gun measure survives test vote Overnight Healthcare: GOP plan marks new phase in ObamaCare fight Stoddard: The great Trump rebellion MORE (Tenn.), Richard BurrRichard BurrHomeland Security Committee pushes encryption commission in new report Clinton endorses Warner-McCaul encryption commission Lobbying world MORE (N.C.) and John HoevenJohn HoevenDeath threats against senators remained on Twitter for 2 weeks Senate panel approves funding boost for TSA Overnight Energy: Senate Dems block energy, water bill a third time 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 SchumerFormer Gillibrand aide wins NY House primary Senate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico Juan Williams: GOP sounds the sirens over Trump 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 DurbinClinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Reid backs House Puerto Rico bill McConnell pledges redo vote on Zika after break 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.