WASHINGTON – The Senate crossed the first of many hurdles Thursday in the drive to pass new gun legislation, with a bipartisan vote to begin what could be weeks of debate on the issue.
By a 68-31 margin, senators moved to open formal consideration of a package of reforms to expand background checks, improve school safety and combat gun trafficking. Among Republicans, 16 voted yes, while two Democrats voted no and one did not vote.
Next week senators will be able to offer amendments that pose the real test of whether the larger bill will succeed. Both gun-rights advocates and supporters of even stricter gun control expect to offer additional proposals that would ban the sales of certain types of assault weapons ban or expand concealed-weapons permits.
The first amendment expected to come to a vote would be a compromise reached this week on background checks brokered by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that was seen as increasing the likelihood that the larger package will pass.