Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced Thursday that he will freeze consideration of gun legislation until expanded background checks find 60 votes.
"This debate is not over. In fact, this fight is just beginning," Reid said on the floor. "I've spoken with the president. He and I agree that the best way to keep working towards passing a background check bill is to hit a pause and freeze the background check bill where it is. ... This will allow senators to keep negotiating."
The Manchin-Toomey to expand mandatory background checks to firearm purchases at gun shows and Internet sales fell five votes short Wednesday of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster. It was the centerpiece of Democrats' efforts to tighten gun laws in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. elementary school shootings.
"We're going to come back to this bill," Reid said. "I'm committed to ensuring that any bill we pass include an expansion of background checks, close the gun show loophole and cover private sales."
In seeking to halt the legislation, Reid was resisting a push by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to bring up a further watered-down background check measure, which could threaten efforts to achieve more substantial reforms. The Coburn measure may also give Republicans political cover to say they voted for an expansion of background checks, which 90 percent of Americans support, without doing much or anything to upset the gun lobby.
"He's disappointed," said a Coburn aide. "[H]e's trying to help his colleagues choose incremental progress over magnificent failure."
This post has been updated for clarity.