“They’re actually saving the Senate from itself,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (RS.D.), who wants to review legislation expanding Manchin’s background checks. “I said to him, ‘Look, Joe, I’m more than willing to visit you on these matters if we could do something that could actually work and stand the test of time. “”
Bipartisan bids to legislate guns have repeatedly failed over the past decade, largely due to GOP opposition to tougher gun laws. But Republicans recognize that because Manchin and Sinema have preserved the filibuster, they must at least listen to Democrats who are desperate for a deal to reduce gun violence.
Manchin and Sinema insisted on working with Republicans to pursue last year’s infrastructure law, which resulted in a rare major bipartisan triumph. But since then, progressives have criticized Manchin and Sinema for their opposition to changing Senate rules to enact electoral reform, and Manchin’s own efforts to urge Republicans to support the election legislation have proven futile.
And guns are even more of a third railroad issue within the Republican Party. There are only two GOP senators left who supported Manchin-Toomey’s 2013 background check expansion: the senses. Susan Collins of Maine and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, both of whom are part of the new bipartisan group. Still, other potential supporters could emerge.
“I salute them for having the presence of mind to retain the institution of the Senate,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) of Manchin and Sinema. “Manchin-Toomey has a lot of attractive features and the red flags make a lot of sense. I have to look at the final bill, but the answer is that I’m inclined to vote for this kind of legislation.
Sinema and Manchin took part in a bipartisan gun meeting on Thursday, alongside Murphy, Collins and Toomey, as well as the Senses. Martin Heinrich (DN.M.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Lindsey Graham (RS.C. ), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Separately, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) met with Murphy to “touch some gloves.”
Among the ideas on the table are a narrow expansion of background checks, as well as legislation that would offer subsidies to states that enforce so-called “red flag” laws, under which law enforcement officials can ask a court to confiscate the weapons of persons considered threats to themselves and to others. The red flag proposal is more popular among Republicans than the background check expansion.
Still, Manchin said the energy in the Senate was different than a decade ago, when he first focused on extending background checks to gun shows. and Internet transactions after a shooter killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
“I have never been so encouraged by more activity from my fellow Republicans and fellow Democrats,” Manchin said. “I remember after Sandy Hook, nobody came to the table.”
Since the start of the 50-50 Senate, Republicans have gone out of their way to praise the two moderate Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell even told his conference to do so in a private meeting last year. And Republican praise for Manchin only intensified after he crushed President Joe Biden’s sweeping “Build Back Better” bill in December.
Republicans helped Democrats raise the debt ceiling last year over fears that a default could change Sinema and Manchin’s view on the filibuster. Even so, it’s not at all clear that the same dynamic can drive Republicans to reach a deal with Democrats on gun access, an issue that drives the GOP base like few others despite public support for any new restrictions.
Some of the duo’s fellow Democrats are also skeptical that their stance on filibuster will increase the likelihood that Republicans will accept a gun deal.
“Any expectation that they did things that Republicans love, and therefore Republicans owe them a debt — that’s naive,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
In fact, Democrats fear Republicans are executing a playbook similar to the one they’ve used after other mass shootings: Open the door to talks while the issue is in the national spotlight, but refuse to seal the deal. deal later. McConnell is encouraging Cornyn to engage with Murphy, a sign the GOP leader isn’t trying to weed out all bipartisan energy so soon after this month’s horrific mass killings in Buffalo, NY, and Uvalde. Texas.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune (RS.D.), who speaks with Sinema almost daily, was therefore evasive.
“We need to at least listen to each other to see if there’s a way forward where, you know, we might be able to come up with solutions that actually solve the problem,” Thune said. “There are a lot of conversations going on right now, and we’ll see where that leads.”
Thursday afternoon, the Senate split, not to return until June 6. While conversations will continue during the recess between senators from both parties working on the issue, there is no longer any chance for action as the massacre of children is fresh in people’s minds. legislators and the public.