Manchin-Toomey measure still doesn’t have the votes

The deal on background checks is proving tricky for moderate Republicans

Topics: Joe Manchin, Pat Toomey, Universal background checks, Gun Control, U.S. Senate,

Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey’s bipartisan deal on background checks is slowly accuring the votes it’ll need to pass the Senate, but it’s proving divisive among both parties.

The New York Times reports:

Senator Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, says he will vote against the measure, and at least three other Democrats are expected to join him in trying to defeat it, including Heidi Heitkamp, a freshman senator from North Dakota. Some left-leaning Democrats may also balk because of the gun-rights provisions that have been added to the bill to entice Republicans.

Among the 16 Republicans who joined 50 Democrats and two independents in voting last week to proceed to consideration of gun legislation, roughly seven have already decided not to support the measure. Another half-dozen Republicans who voted to proceed on the bill remain ambivalent.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has said that she’ll support the measure, and has been targeted by ads by the National Association for Gun Rights – a Rand Paul-linked gun lobby – for her trouble. As the Times reports, in a closed-door meeting Collins fired back at the ads, and “warned her colleagues that if she loses a primary to a strong opponent with gun-rights credentials, it could well cost the party her seat…Then Mr. Paul, feeling attacked, stormed out.”

Aside from Collins and Toomey, Sens. Mark Kirk and John McCain have said they’ll support the amendment. Another large gun group, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, announced that it will support the Manchin-Toomey amendment, in a split with the NRA.

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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