Joe Manchin: Background Checks Bill Not Dead Yet
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin insisted today that the background checks bill he co-authored with Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey isn’t dead yet:
Sen. Joe Manchin was optimistic on Sunday that the Senate could take another shot at passing a narrow gun control bill that focuses specifically on mental health and criminal background checks.
“The only thing we’ve asked for is for people to read the bill,” the West Virginia Democrat said on “Fox News Sunday,” stressing the need for a “clean bill.”
“I truly believe that if we have time to sell the bill… read the bill and tell me what you don’t like,” he said.
He said he expects Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who worked with Manchin on a failed gun control bill earlier this month, can be convinced to take up the issue again, even though Toomey said it was time to move on.
In order for the bill to make it through the Senate, Manchin would need to find a way for all four of the Democrats who voted against cloture — Mark Pryor, Heidi Heitkamp, Max Baucus, and Mark Begich — to switch sides and find at least one Republican to go along with them. The most likely candidate in that regard, and the one that gun control advocates seem to be focusing on at the moment is New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte who has taken a hit in the polls as a result of her vote on Manchin/Toomey. Getting Heitkamp, Baucus, and Begich on board may end up being as simple as making changes to the bill to make the burdens on individuals to sell or transfer their guns if they live in rural areas far from a dealer that has a Federal Firearms License. Pryor may be another story, though, and Ayotte is something of a wild card although she may be influenced by John McCain, who voted in favor of the bill.
For the reasons I discussed in the wake of the defeat of the bill, though, I’m not sure how likely it is that any of these Senators is going to switch votes before the 2014 elections. Instead, we may see Democrats try to use the bill as a cudgel against Republicans in 2014.