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 Healthcare: Public support mounts for action on opioids Clinton slams convicted ex-coal chief West Virginia Dem defends Clinton support despite coal remarks 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 AyotteAyotte will back Trump in general election Trump ticket looms over vulnerable GOP senators The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (N.H.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeMany Republicans uninterested in being Trump’s VP: report Senate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico McCain fundraiser faces felony drug charges in Arizona 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 approves new Veterans Affairs watchdog Overnight Regulation: Republicans move to block financial adviser rule Senate Republicans move to block financial adviser rule MORE (Ga.), Roger WickerRoger WickerOvernight Healthcare: Senate making headway on Zika funding DNC head: Republicans ‘dropping like flies’ from convention Campaign chief to vulnerables: Stay away from GOP convention MORE (Miss.) and Dean HellerDean HellerCarter pledges probe of sex assault testimony Democrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment Senate votes to increase wind energy funding 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 BegichEx-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Unable to ban Internet gambling, lawmakers try for moratorium Dem ex-lawmakers defend Schumer on Iran 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 CaseyObama-backed Dem makes gains in Pa. primary Senate introduces tariff relief bill Lawmakers react to Villanova's buzzer-beater NCAA win 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 JohnsonHousing groups argue Freddie Mac's loss should spur finance reform On Wall Street, Dem shake-up puts party at crossroads Regulators fret over FOIA reform bill MORE (S.D.), Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellyDemocrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment GOP blocks Obama sanctions czar Indiana GOP divided over Senate primary MORE (Ind.), Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillDem senators: Slash executive pay at pension plans seeking benefit cuts Bill would target retaliation against military sexual assault victims Senate Dem takes on drugmaker: ‘It’s time to slaughter some hogs’ MORE (Mo.) and Mark WarnerMark WarnerTurf battle erupts over hot cyber issue Housing groups argue Freddie Mac's loss should spur finance reform Week ahead: Rival encryption efforts clash on Capitol Hill MORE (Va.).
But Democrats who declined to comment or didn't say definitively where they stand on Manchin-Toomey include Sens. Max BaucusMax BaucusWyden unveils business tax proposal College endowments under scrutiny The chaotic fight for ObamaCare MORE (Mont.), Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampReid: Judiciary a 'rubber stamp' for Trump-McConnell oil is changing the world and Washington GOP blocks Obama sanctions czar 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 CoburnGOP faces existential threat Sanders tops 2016 field in newly deleted tweets The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Okla.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamTrump: GOP critics can come back after my 'two terms' Graham: GOP has 'lost its way' on Trump Troops question rules for ISIS medal MORE (S.C.), Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderDemocrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico pressure builds; Big tariff vote Wednesday Senate votes to increase wind energy funding MORE (Tenn.), Richard BurrRichard BurrThe Trail 2016: The establishment comes around Intel leaders push controversial encryption draft Moulitsas: 2016 dim for GOP MORE (N.C.) and John HoevenJohn HoevenThis week: Congress on track to miss Puerto Rico deadline Week ahead: Senate looks to wrap up energy, water spending bill Overnight Energy: Senate blocks GOP bill targeting water rule 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 SchumerRyan goes all-in on Puerto Rico Cruz's dad: Trump 'would be worse than Hillary Clinton' With Ryan’s blessing, lawmakers press ahead with tax reform talks 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 DurbinLobbying World Judiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights Elizabeth Warren stumps, raises funds for Duckworth 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.