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Senate negotiators hope to reach an arms deal by the end of the week: NPR


US President Joe Biden, left, speaks with Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., outside the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday as the two discuss ongoing Senate negotiations on firearms legislation fire.

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Senate negotiators hope to reach an arms deal by the end of the week: NPR

US President Joe Biden, left, speaks with Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., outside the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday as the two discuss ongoing Senate negotiations on firearms legislation fire.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate negotiators are racing to finalize an agreement on a narrow set of gun control proposals with the aim of finishing their work before the end of the week.

On Tuesday, members of a bipartisan group of senators shuttled between negotiations, party briefings and conversations at the White House under intense political pressure to secure a deal.

Negotiators narrowed their talks to a narrow set of proposals aimed at keeping schools safe and establishing standards for the safe storage of firearms while providing federal support for mental health programs and incentives for states to create so-called red flag laws to remove guns from potentially dangerous owners. . The talks also included possible extensions of federal background checks for young people looking to buy guns.

The talks took place behind closed doors on Capitol Hill as families and victims of gun violence testified in public hearings about the damage guns have done to their lives.

Garnell Whitfield Jr., the son of Ruth Whitfield, who was killed by a gunman last month in the mass grocery store shooting in Buffalo, NY, was among the family members who began a series of testimonies and appearances on Capitol Hill. As lawmakers spoke, he pleaded with them to do more than sit idly by as gun violence ruins lives.

“My mother’s life mattered,” Whitfield told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Your actions here today would tell us how important this is to you.”

As Whitefield spoke, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., one of the Democrats’ top negotiators, visited the White House to update President Biden on their progress. Murphy then told reporters his goal was to keep Biden in the loop, but lawmakers themselves are in control of the negotiations.

“He gives us the space to negotiate the deal, but obviously we need the president’s support and signature,” Murphy said. “We don’t have a deal, we have nothing to present to our colleagues or the White House. Yet.”

Early in the day, Murphy told ABC View that there is support among members for raising the legal age to purchase semi-automatic weapons to 21, although he is “sober” about the challenges of reaching a bipartisan agreement.

“We are trying to figure out if there is anything we can do with this 18 to 21 year old population, which tends to be the profile of a mass shooter, to make sure that it is possible to know s ‘there are red flags or warning signs before you get your hands on a gun,’ Murphy said.

Also on Tuesday, lawmakers gathered on the National Mall and called for gun reform next to a flower memorial commemorating the 45,000 lives lost each year to gun violence.

And actor Matthew McConaughey, from Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school two weeks ago, has issued a moving call for Congress to act on guns on fire during the daily White House press briefing.

“We’re in a window of opportunity right now that we weren’t in before. A window where it looks like real change, real change can happen,” McConaughey said. “I’m here today hoping to apply the energy, sanity and passion that I have to try to make this moment a reality.”

Senate negotiators hope to reach an arms deal by the end of the week: NPR

Actor Matthew McConaughey chokes as he holds a photo of Alithia Ramirez, a 10-year-old student who was killed in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in his native Uvalde, Texas, while she was speaking during the daily press briefing at the White House on Tuesday. McConaughey met with senators to discuss gun reform.

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Senate negotiators hope to reach an arms deal by the end of the week: NPR

Actor Matthew McConaughey chokes as he holds a photo of Alithia Ramirez, a 10-year-old student who was killed in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in his native Uvalde, Texas, while she was speaking during the daily press briefing at the White House on Tuesday. McConaughey met with senators to discuss gun reform.

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Schumer expects an agreement by the end of the week

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Tuesday that Murphy expects to reach an agreement with Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas by the end of the week “and I intend to give him that time.” “.

“I have great faith in Senator Murphy and the other Democrats who are negotiating. I don’t think they would bring us a deal that doesn’t have teeth,” Schumer said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he hopes Murphy and Cornyn will come up with a measure that tackles mental health and school safety, but it’s too early to speculate on how many. of GOP senators who would agree with what they are proposing.

Biden, himself, has set the bar high for what he wants to see out of Congress, including an assault weapons ban, a high-capacity magazine ban, background checks, flag laws red and a repeal of immunity that shields gun manufacturers from legal liability if their guns are used for violence.

In the Senate, lawmakers are beginning to negotiate some of the ideas presented by Biden, such as incentives for states to implement their own red flag laws.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told reporters that the money awarded for the Red Flag laws was intended to encourage states to pass the legislation and give them the tools and funding they need to implement the laws once they are on the books. Blumenthal said even states that already have red flag laws, like New York, need more resources to ensure programs are successful in getting guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.

“New York law probably hasn’t been enforced as effectively as it should because they haven’t invested in it,” Blumenthal said. “So money is important not just as an incentive, but as a catalyst for implementation.”

Lawmakers are also trying to reach an agreement on changes to the national instant background check system, known as NICS. One proposal is to include previously sealed juvenile criminal records in the overall screening process. Some lawmakers say it could help ensure the system has a better image of a potential young gun buyer. Aides say adding information about minors is a way to address concerns about the minimum age for buying guns without actually changing the requirements.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the Republican negotiators, said information is already included in background checks in South Carolina, but he would not say whether he supports adding the measure to federal legislation.

Lawmakers are still working out the details of how to fund the programs in the bill and whether Republicans will require the money to be matched by spending cuts for other programs.

Senate negotiators hope to reach an arms deal by the end of the week: NPR

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., right, and Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., second from right, greet family members of shooting victims of Buffalo, including Kimberly Salter, center, the widow of Aaron Salter Jr., a security guard who died in the mass shooting at Tops supermarket, after a gun violence hearing on Tuesday.

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Senate negotiators hope to reach an arms deal by the end of the week: NPR

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., right, and Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., second from right, greet family members of shooting victims of Buffalo, including Kimberly Salter, center, the widow of Aaron Salter Jr., a security guard who died in the mass shooting at Tops supermarket, after a gun violence hearing on Tuesday.

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Conversations continue on the Chamber side

The House Oversight and Reform Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday morning to “examine the epidemic of gun violence in the United States” with two panels of witnesses from Uvalde and Buffalo.

Zeneta Everhart, mother of a Buffalo shooting survivor, is set to address lawmakers. Felix and Kimberly Rubio, parents of Lexi Rubio — a 10-year-old child killed in the Robb Elementary shooting in Uvalde — and Miah Cerrillo, a fourth-grader at Robb Elementary who survived the attack, also appear on the listing.

The hearing will also include testimony from New York City Mayor Eric Adams and National Education Association President Becky Pringle.

The hearing comes after House members introduced their own gun reform bill, HR 7910, to the Judiciary Committee last week as Biden addressed the nation in an hour-long speech. prime time calling for bills to be passed.

The bill, dubbed the Protecting Our Kids Act, and a second bill, the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, which would nationalize red flag laws, were also debated by the House Rules Committee on Tuesday afternoon.

The full House could vote on the bills as early as this week, according to a letter sent Friday to MPs by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. The prospect of these measures making headway in the Senate is bleak.




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