Two key senators forged a bi-partisan compromise deal on gun background checks with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) announcing the details at 11 a.m. ET at a press conference in Washington. This comes as the entire Senate is poised to debate major gun legislation as early as Thursday, with a filibuster threat from GOP senators overcome on Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) decided to move ahead with the first procedural votes once a group of eight Republican senators, including Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said they would not block votes on gun measures. Reid and Senate Democratic believe, I'm told, that with 55 Senate Democrats, there is strong potential for getting to the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster.
The final fate of the gun proposals is far from certain. The Senate will head into next week with the gun measures dominating the agenda. "All of next week will be gun week in the Senate," a source close to Senate leadership told me Wednesday morning.
The Manchin/Toomey deal was finalized by the Tuesday deadline set by Reid. If their negotiations failed, Reid would have instead called a tougher measure already passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) with provisions that Manchin and Toomey and a group of other senators--including Kirk--did not support.
Reid was open to the Manchin/Toomey deal since they have "A" ratings with the National Rifle Association and were seeing as advocating from a variety of perspectives---from the NRA's to second amendment concerns raised by Kirk--with an NRA "F" rating--and others.
The underlying gun package to be voted on next week includes provisions cracking down on gun trafficking and fencing co-sponsored by Kirk and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) named for Hadiya Pendleton, the Chicago teen shot to death in a South Side park last January, just a few blocks from the Obama family Kenwood home.