Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans on meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in the very near future to discuss the possibility of bringing back gun control legislation for another vote this year in the Senate.
On Tuesday, after the Democrats’ weekly luncheon, Reid spoke about his desire to revive the issue provided something can get done.
“I spoke to the vice president yesterday about this. He and I are going to get together in the next week. I’ve spoken to Sen. Manchin today. We’re going to get together this week and talk about this,” Reid told reporters.
“I’m not going to bring up a vote just to have a vote,” Reid continued. “I want to bring up this vote again if we can accomplish something that seems pretty commonsense to me. If you have severe mental problems, or you are a criminal, you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.”
One will recall that the centerpiece of President Obama’s gun control agenda in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was an expanded background check bill that would require criminal background checks on all gun purchases, including those made between private buyers and sellers.
While there were several different versions of this legislation to crop up, it was the expanded background check bill drafted by Manchin and Sen. Pat Toomey that the Senate ultimately considered. Manchin pitched the bill to the public as a “bipartisan compromise,” one that would protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners while expanding background checks to those gun sales made via the Internet and at gun shows.
Yet, despite Manchin’s efforts to convince the gun community and pro-gun lawmakers that the bill was a fair deal, back in April it failed to get the 60 votes it needed to overcome a Republican-led filibuster in the Senate, falling just six votes short: 54-46.
Following its narrow defeat, it was unclear whether or not Reid or Manchin would bring it back for another vote. Now, though, it appears some political calculation is in order. That is, they will — along with Biden — have to assess the Senate’s appetite for debating gun control once again and, really, determine whether the votes are going to be there the second time around.
On this front, they’re probably going to rely heavily on the financial efforts of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is spending millions of dollars pressuring lawmakers at both the state and federal level to support putting tougher restrictions on gun ownership.
One of the primary targets of Bloomberg’s pro-gun control campaign is New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who voted against the Manchin-Toomey bill. It was reported this week that Bloomberg’s organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, is dropping $400,000 on a new ad blitz designed to turn her constituents against her because she “voted to kill comprehensive background checks, making us less safe” (see MAIG ad below).
Due do the fact that Ayotte hails from the New England region, which is generally thought of as being pro-gun control, Bloomberg thinks he can flip her into supporting an expanded background check bill. Thus far, he’s spent at least $1 million running attack ads against Ayotte.
Will she change her mind? Will other senators change their minds on expanded background checks? It’s certainly possible. And you bet that’s exactly what Biden, Reid and Manchin will be discussing at that meeting, i.e. who else can we turn?