Manchin says he doesn’t support House-passed background check bill

Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 3:46 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told reporters Tuesday that he opposes the House legislation on background checks.

Senate Republican leader Mitch Mcconnell reiterated Tuesday that his party has “deep philosophical differences” with democrats over possible legislative solutions to gun violence.

Mcconnell says he also is opposed to two bills passed by the house earlier this month, including one mandating universal background checks.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was holding a hearing on proposals for gun control Tuesday. It is unclear whether any of the bills up for consideration — most of them involving more restrictive background checks — would have made a difference in that case. A 21-year-old man charged with killing eight people in the Atlanta area last week had purchased a 9 mm handgun hours before the murders, prompting advocates to push for longer waiting periods for purchases.

In brief remarks responding to the shooting, Biden urged Congress to move quickly to close the loopholes in the background check system and also to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines — an effort that would be even more difficult to achieve politically. According to a police affidavit, the Colorado shooter had purchased an assault rifle six days earlier.

The gun debate also highlights a larger difficulty for Senate Democrats as they try to move forward on gun legislation and other policy priorities of the Biden White House. With the filibuster in place, forcing a 60-vote threshold for most legislation, House-passed bills on issues like gun control and voting rights are effectively nonstarters unless Democrats secure significant GOP support.

Manchin and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have worked together for years to find compromise on background checks but have yet to win passage on any of their proposals.

Manchin said he opposes the House legislation, which would apply more broadly to gun sales and transfers in requiring background checks than the Manchin and Toomey proposals of the past. He did not say whether he would restart negotiations, only that “we’re going to try to do the responsible, reasonable thing.”

Toomey said he would like to find legislation that could pass, but “that probably would require something that’s a little bit different. So, we’ll see if we can figure out how to thread that needle.”

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