Background Checks Bill Could Come Up Again in the Senate

Joe Manchin

Yesterday on Fox New Sunday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who sponsored the expanded background checks measure that was recently defeated in upper chamber, told Chris Wallace that the measure will “absolutely” come up for a vote again.

“It came out today that your cosponsor, Pat Toomey says, no, I’m done with it. Do you really think that the expansion of background checks can be revised and can be passed by the U.S. Senate?” Wallace asked Manchin.

I certainly do,” the West Virginia Senator replied. “The only thing that we’ve asked for is that people would just read the bill. It’s a criminal and mental background check strictly at gun shows and online sales.”

“The way the law is today, if you go to a gun store, you have a background check done,” he continued. “If you go to a gun show and you go to a licensed dealer, they still do a background check. But you can go to the next table over and have no check at all.”

Most dealers at gun shows are licensed and online sales already have to be finalized by a licensed dealer, so that talking point is a red-herring.

“I want to make it clear — you’re going to bring this bill back,” said before being interupted. “Absolutely,” Manchin replied. “And you think it’s going to be different?” Wallace asked.

Manchin believes that if he has more time to work on his colleagues that the background check amendment will pass. “I truly believe if we have time to sell the bill, and people will read the bill, and I’m willing to go anywhere in this country, I’m going to debate anybody on this issue, read the bill and you tell me what you don’t like,” Machin said. “We stop registration completely from the standpoint of the felony, with 15 years of imprisonment.”

Manchin also indicated that he wants a “clean” bill, meaning that he’ll it separate from a broader gun control package. He also claimed that gun owners should like the proposal. “[I]f you’re a law—abiding gun owner, you’ll love this bill,” he said. “If you’re a criminal, if you’ve been mentally adjudicated through a court, you probably won’t like it.”

Toomey has also said that result of the vote on the background checks amendment could have been different if he and Manchin had more time. But to Wallace’s point, Toomey has indeed indicated that he’s done with the background checks bill. During a conference call last week, Toomey said, “Until we have such reason to believe that we’d have a different outcome, I think the issue is resolved by the Senate.” Toomey explained that he’s turning his attention to “fiscal and economic matters.”

The Manchin-Toomey amendment fell six votes shy of passage, though one of those votes was Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who supports the measure but voted against it so he could bring it back up at a later date. Looking at the list of votes against the amendment, it’s possible that Manchin could convince Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) to join him.

Baucus isn’t running for re-election, so there isn’t anything standing in his way. Ayotte has been hammered in her home state for opposing the amendment the first time around. Heitkamp is a Democrat in a red state, but she’s not up for re-election until 2018. Begich is up for re-election next year, so political ramifications may keep him from supporting it. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), who also voted against the amendment, is likely a target for Manchin, but with a tough re-election next year, it’s unlikely that he’ll switch.

Here’s the relevant section of the interview:

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