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Toomey Says He Expects Senate Vote on Gun Legislation This Week

U.S. Senators Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, speak to the press about background checks for gun purchases. Photographer: Allison Shelley/Getty Images
U.S. Senators Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, speak to the press about background checks for gun purchases. Photographer: Allison Shelley/Getty Images

April 14 (Bloomberg) -- Senator Pat Toomey said today that the U.S. Senate is likely to vote this week on a compromise provision that would expand background checks for gun purchasers.

“We expect a vote this week,” the Republican from Pennsylvania said on CNN’s “State Of The Union” program. “It’s not certain as to exactly when. I think Wednesday’s probably the most likely day for a vote.”

Toomey and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia crafted legislation that would require background checks for firearms sales over the Internet and between private parties at gun shows. Noncommercial person-to-person firearms sales wouldn’t be covered, a tradeoff Democrats made to win Republican support.

The Senate on April 11 voted to advance a scaled-back version of the gun-safety agenda President Barack Obama proposed after the shootings of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Manchin and Toomey plan to offer their provision as an amendment to the underlying bill, Toomey said. On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Manchin said that he and Toomey would tomorrow begin going through the provision “line by line, section by section” on the floor of the Senate to make their case.

Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said that the amendment faces a “hard road” to adoption in the Senate, where controversial legislation requires a super-majority of 60 votes in the 100-member chamber.

‘Tough Fight’

“Not all of the Republicans who voted to allow debate are going to vote with us on background checks,” Schumer said on ABC’s “This Week.” “So, it’s going to be a tough fight to even get the 60 votes we need for the Manchin-Toomey proposal.”

Schumer, the third-ranking Senate Democrat, said the “key battle is with a handful of Republicans” who have not committed to the Manchin-Toomey legislation and got a top rating from the National Rifle Association.

Even if the Senate passes a gun measure, it would encounter stiff opposition in the House, where Republican leaders haven’t even committed to taking up gun legislation.

The NRA is the nation’s largest gun-rights lobby, and the Fairfax, Virginia-based nonprofit organization says it has 4 million members.

Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, the Senate majority whip, said he didn’t know if there were enough votes to pass the legislation.

“We haven’t whipped it,” Durbin said on “Fox News Sunday.” “When it gets down to it, we’ve got to ask the basic question, should we try to keep guns out of the hands of felons and people so mentally unstable they shouldn’t own a firearm? If the answer is yes, Manchin-Toomey is a step in that direction.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Carter Dougherty in Washington at cdougherty6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maura Reynolds at mreynolds34@bloomberg.net

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