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Manchin-Toomey Bill Set For Cloture Vote Tomorrow

In what is somewhat of a surprising move, the Senate will put the background checks proposal put forward by Senators Manchin and Toomey up for a vote tomorrow:

The Senate will vote Wednesday afternoon on what could be the biggest change in U.S. gun laws in nearly 20 years.

Senators will take up the proposal from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to expand background checks on firearm purchases and close the so-called gun show loophole. The bipartisan plan is likely the strongest gun control bill that can pass this Congress, although it’s far weaker than the White House and many Democrats hoped for.

Nevertheless, it will require 60 votes to pass, and the White House and Democrats still lack the final votes they need.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his GOP counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, finalized the agreement on Tuesday night setting up votes on eight additional amendments. Those amendments will also require 60 votes to pass.

They include Democratic proposals including a ban on assault weapons, a prohibition on high-capacity ammunition magazines, and a measure to expand mental-health screening.

GOP leaders, vehemently opposed to the Manchin-Toomey plan have submitted their own proposals, including an alternative gun bill by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and an amendment from provision by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to grant “reciprocity” among in other states for gun owners with “concealed carry permit.”

But for Democrats, Manchin-Toomey is the big one. Vice President Joe Biden has spoken with several senators, and Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was seriously wounded in a January. 2011 shooting that killed six people, that left six other people dead, was on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to press for the Manchin-Toomey plan.

As I noted earlier today, there are considerable doubts about whether Manchin/Toomey has the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture. Ordinarily, you’d think that Harry Reid would avoid filing for cloture if he didn’t think he had the votes, but the truth of the matter is that he’s faced several situations before where he’s put a bill up for cloture only to have it fail. That could very well happen here, or he could decide to withdraw the bill at the last minute. If I had to guess right now, though, I’d say it’s highly unlikely that the bill gets the 60 votes necessary.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook