The Manchin-Toomey background check compromise teeters on oblivion. An analysis by Ed O’Keefe at The Washington Post concluded there are 92 committed Senate votes as of late Tuesday morning, 52 yeas and 39 nays. The eight undecided members include John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has said he is favorably disposed toward it. If the nays exceed 40, the compromise will fall short of the 60 aye votes it needs to pass filibuster. It is key to the viability of S.649, Senate Democrats’ flagship gun control bill, which essentially proposes universal checks.
Around 2:05 this afternoon Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated to reporters that he would be meeting with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to hash out an agreement on how to conduct and schedule amendment votes. About ten minutes later Senator Reid confirmed this, saying “I’m not ruling anything out” regarding Manchin-Toomey. He expressed confidence it will succeed, but faces a tough climb. Just before 5 p.m. McConnell’s office indicated negotiations are ongoing with nothing to announce yet.
McConnell and Reid are both hoping to use votes on other amendments to advance their Toomey-Manchin strategies. For example, John Cornyn’s (R-Tex.) proposed amendment would require states to honor each others’ concealed carry laws, e.g. if a resident of Texas carried a concealed handgun into Maryland. This could be interpreted as an attempt to alienate progressive senators, and the minority certainly want to do so.
In any case, an amendment procedure agreement would allow the process to move forward. Willingness to proceed under such terms may also indicate that McConnell and Reid both think the whip count for Manchin-Toomey — and in general — is on their side.
Reid was expected on the floor at 3:30 p.m., but that was pushed back two hours, ostensibly as the negotiations dragged on. The 5:30 p.m. deadline came and went as well. I will have updates on Twitter @TheGattoniCelli.