President Obama’s make-or-break week on guns

by JOHN BRESNAHAN and REID J. EPSTEIN, Politico.com  |  published on April 9, 2013

gun reform

President Barack Obama finds out this week whether he scratches out a narrow victory on gun control — or ends up with nothing at all.

Four months after the mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school reignited the national debate over gun control, the issue is finally headed to the Senate floor. And the prospects still look bleak for those hoping for sweeping reform.

The unlikely key to the answer might be a conservative GOP senator from Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey. The former head of the Club for Growth has emerged as a last-minute possible partner on a deal. But his stamp of approval is far from certain. If a deal emerges, Republicans could delay action on it for a week.

Senate action is Obama’s best chance for a deal — but even there, Democrats haven’t settled on which bill to advance. The White House and most Democrats are behind a proposal that requires background checks for all gun sales, although even that is far less than what gun control advocates had hoped. Obama, though, won’t get anything better in the House, and he might not get that much.

After the Newtown tragedy, Obama pledged to use the full power of his office to prevent another such rampage. He’ll be in Hartford on Monday with victims of the shooting to continue his drive for congressional action on guns.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is set to huddle Monday with other Democratic leaders to hash out a floor strategy. Reid will have to decide early in the week whether a bipartisan compromise on background checks is possible or whether a promised GOP filibuster will prevent the Senate from taking broad action.

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