Senate to cast first gun-control votes on Thursday

by Reuters  |  published on April 10, 2013

Senator Manchin takes a call outside a party policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington

The Senate will cast its first vote this week on President Barack Obama’s proposals to curb gun violence, which face a rough ride in Congress due to opposition from Republicans and gun rights activists.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid scheduled a procedural vote for Thursday to open debate on gun control and Democratic aides said they expect to defeat Republican efforts to block the bill from reaching the Senate floor.

But even if the Democrats win that skirmish, the administration is struggling to gain support from lawmakers for Obama’s proposals to expand background checks for gun buyers and ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines in the face of a campaign by the powerful National Rifle Association gun lobby.

Gun-control supporters cranked up pressure on lawmakers on Tuesday, with relatives of children killed in the Newtown school massacre in December meeting with senators in Washington.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania were still trying to reach a compromise on background checks, which appears to be Obama’s best hope for meaningful legislation.

Reid said, however, that he would not wait to see if they could reach a deal before he scheduled a vote.

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