WASHINGTON – Negotiations on the centerpiece element of new gun control legislation appeared on the verge of a breakthrough Tuesday evening, with key lawmakers saying a final deal on expanding background checks for gun purchases could be reached Wednesday.
“We’re not there yet. We’re closer than we’ve ever been,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, as he stood with Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) after the two emerged from a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Schumer has been leading the effort to craft gun control legislation in the Senate, while Manchin has been working with Republicans to find a compromise on the most contentious issue in the bill – closing the loopholes that allow many guns to be sold without background checks being conducted on the buyer. The goal is to come up with a bill that could win the 60 votes needed to overcome a threatened filibuster in the Senate.
After several weeks of stalemate, Manchin’s recent talks with Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) have shown the most progress, according to officials familiar with the negotiations. Sen. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.), who discussed gun legislation Tuesday with President Obama, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) also have been working with Manchin.