A small group of Democratic and Republican senators have formed a bipartisan negotiating group in hopes of reaching a modest deal on gun-control legislation, but they don’t have much time to hammer out their differences.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a leading advocate for expanded background checks, hosted seven colleagues in a basement office in the Capitol Thursday afternoon for what participants described as an “organizational” meeting.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) attended the meeting in person. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) joined by telephone.
Murphy later told a reporter that the group includes a total of 10 members, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.
Senators in the meeting said the two main proposals on the table are expanded background checks for firearms purchases and transfers and red-flag legislation to prohibit people deemed a danger to themselves or others from possessing a firearm.
Senators spent part of the Thursday afternoon meeting dividing up responsibilities.
Murphy, Manchin and Toomey will focus on expanded background checks, while Blumenthal and Graham have been tasked with taking the lead on red-flag legislation. But the negotiation is expected to cover a broader range of topics.
“We have ruled out nothing. There are other ideas — school safety. But the two main ones are background checks and our bill,” Blumenthal said, referring to red-flag legislation he has negotiated with Graham.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told colleagues Thursday morning that they should be prepared to vote on gun control legislation when they return to Washington next month after the Memorial Day recess.