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Moment Of Truth: Senate To Vote On Background Checks

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The bill would expand mandatory background checks to gun shows and Internet sales while exempting private sales and transfers between family and friends. It remains unclear whether the bill, which is opposed by the National Rifle Association, has the 60 votes needed to pass.

Late Tuesday, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) said they were hopeful but were less than certain they had the votes. Earlier in the afternoon Democrats said they were weighing new carve-outs in an effort to win over skeptical senators. But in a blow to the bill's prospects, Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), two lawmakers Democrats were hoping to win over, said afterward they won't support it.

The Manchin-Toomey bill is the first of nine amendments that Democratic and Republican leaders have agreed to hold votes on -- all at 60-vote thresholds -- as part of the gun legislation filed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that hit the floor last week.

As Reid promised, the assault weapons ban and limits on high-capacity ammunition will receive votes during the amendment process, although they're widely expected to fail.

Republican amendments include a proposal by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IL) to address mental health and other provisions, which will be formally unveiled Wednesday morning.

A separate proposal offered by Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) would make a concealed carry permit obtained in one state valid in all states -- a policy strongly supported by the NRA -- which right-wing senators hope to use as a vehicle to turn the gun control legislation into pro-gun legislation. Democratic leaders expect to defeat the measure, which they believe could poison and scuttle the entire legislation if it passes.

About The Author


Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.