Photo: Tom Williams (CQ Roll Call)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the base gun legislation on the Senate floor next month would include background checks and gun-trafficking language as well as school safety provisions.
In a statement Thursday evening, the Nevada Democrat highlighted the importance of having enhanced background checks in the bill that eventually passes the Senate, whether through language from the Senate Judiciary Committee or a bipartisan compromise.
“I hope negotiations will continue over the upcoming break to reach a bipartisan compromise on background checks, and I am hopeful that they will succeed. If a compromise is reached, I am open to including it in the base bill,” Reid said in a statement. “But I want to be clear: In order to be effective, any bill that passes the Senate must include background checks.”
The move appeared aimed at spurring a bipartisan group of senators to rapidly conclude their talks on background checks. Those senators include Democrats Charles E. Schumerof New York and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Republicans Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Mark S. Kirk of Illinois.
Reid is starting the procedural steps needed to introduce the bill Thursday and have it ready in the queue for floor action when senators return from a two-week break for Easter and Passover. That means the bill could come up as early as the week of April 8.
“The bill I advance tonight will serve as the basis for opening debate. Once debate begins, I will ensure that a ban on assault weapons, limits to high-capacity magazines and mental-health provisions receive votes, along with other amendments,” Reid said. “In his State of the Union address, President [Barack] Obama called for all of these provisions to receive votes, and I will ensure that they do.”
Senate Judiciary ranking member Charles E. Grassley was quick to criticize Reid’s announcement that the background check provisions would be included.
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