Democratic Senator from West Virginia Joe Manchin, left, and Republican… (Michael Reynolds / EPA )
WASHINGTON – One of the senators behind the compromise proposal to expand background checks on gun purchases will mount a Senate floor sales pitch Monday, part of a lobbying effort to ensure passage for the key piece of a larger guns bill when it comes to a vote this week.
When the Senate convenes Monday afternoon, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) plans to take to the floor to go through his proposal piece-by-piece to dispel what he considers misrepresentations from critics of tighter gun laws. He’ll then challenge colleagues who have any questions to come to join him in the chamber for an open debate, and stay there for as long as it takes to satisfy concerns.
Manchin’s move to mount a kind of reverse filibuster in favor of his proposal aims to get ahead of critics as the Senate opens what could be a weeks-long process of considering alternative proposals that would either strengthen or weaken the legislation. Democrats hope to have votes on three of their amendments this week, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proposal to ban certain types of assault weapons.
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“We know that reading is a dying art. We’re going to explain this,” Manchin said in an interview Sunday before shuttling from one television studio to another in Washington.
“Certain pieces of legislation you have, and the longer they lay out there the more opposition they build. This is absolutely the reverse. And I’m thinking the longer the better,” he said. Senators would find the proposal a reasonable balance that protects 2nd Amendment rights “if people would just take time [to read it], because right now it’s a lot of hype.”
Manchin and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), the co-author of the background checks amendment, appeared together on a several Sunday talk shows and expressed cautious optimism for their amendment, which Senate leaders have said will be the first considered this week.
The senators say they expect more support to be announced in the days ahead, but still were wary of handicapping its fate at this point.
“We’re close. We need more,” Manchin said on CBS' “Face The Nation.”
“We’ve got bipartisan support. But there’s bipartisan opposition,” Toomey said.
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Also Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told CNN he was “very favorably disposed” to the Manchin-Toomey proposal. Another Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, endorsed the plan Saturday.
But another leading Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, sounded his opposition.
“We are spending all of our time talking about background checks as if, somehow, criminals will no longer getting guns because they have to undergo a background check. We're lying to people. That isn't true,” Rubio told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The fact of the matter is that we have a violence problem in America.”
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