Senate leaders wrangle votes for gun bill
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WASHINGTON -- The Senate will vote Wednesday afternoon on nine amendments to the gun-control package, including a key showdown on the compromise on New York Sen. Charles Schumer's gun-buyer background checks.
The amendments include measures rejected by gun-rights advocates -- such as an assault weapon ban and high-capacity ammunition magazine limit -- and others opposed strongly by gun-control activists -- including a requirement for all states to recognize any state's permit for carrying a concealed weapon.
The agreement on the amendments between Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Tuesday follows President Barack Obama's repeated calls for Congress to vote on guns.
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It also brings to the Senate floor the first major gun-control bill in two decades.
Each amendment will require 60 votes to pass, a high bar for an issue that has stoked strong views and emotions as lawmakers have debated how they should respond to the Newtown, Conn., school shootings that killed 20 children and six adults on Dec. 14.
In the past two weeks, both those for and against Reid's gun package have been scrambling to win over undeclared and wavering senators, whose number has dwindled during the debate this week.
The vote will be a test for the background check bill, which Schumer calls the "sweet spot" of the gun package because of its broad public appeal. The amendment, worked out with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Schumer and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), would cover firearms sold at gun shows and online. It still exempts private deals between individuals.
But its backers have run into difficulty in assembling the needed 60 votes.
The ban on gun trafficking, whose key sponsors include Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), also faces an amendment that would set the bar higher in defining gun trafficking and illegitimate straw purchases.
Schumer said the ailing, elderly Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) might show up Wednesday.
"I spoke to Frank this morning. He cares so much about this issue," said Schumer. "I'm hopeful if we need him for the 60th vote that he'll be here."