Negotiations on Capitol Hill are reaching a critical point, as leading Republican and Democratic senators establish common ground on legislation that could reduce future mass shootings.
One of the negotiators, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, told reporters on Tuesday that talks were “entering a fairly critical phase” and that his “goal was to get an agreement by the end of the week.” Murphy met with President Biden at the White House on Tuesday, but declined to go into details of the meeting.
Unlike previous attempts to find common ground on gun legislation, Murphy, whose state of Connecticut suffered the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in 2012, said Republicans were more and more open to their efforts. That’s because, Murphy said, families are turning on members’ phones like never before.
“I’ve failed so many times in these talks that I’m sober about our chances,” Murphy said on ABC’s “The View” on Tuesday. , momentum fades. The opposite seems to be happening this time. There are more Republicans every day who want to help us get to a product and so I’m very hopeful that maybe by the end of this week we can announce a framework that will allow us to vote.”
He did not specify what would be under the legislation to address gun violence and mass shootings and only mentioned the topics discussed in the broadest terms.
“I don’t think we can sit back and let our politics stop us from finding a compromise,” Murphy said. “So we’re talking about common sense changes to our gun laws that will save lives. Significant funding for mental health.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said on Tuesday that the bipartisan group working to craft a package “is making progress on three or four fronts.”
GOP Sen. John Cornyn, a top Republican negotiator, said building consensus takes time and suggested there is agreement on mental health funding and criminal records.
“I think focusing on mental health issues and people with criminal histories is an obvious area where I think we can work together,” Cornyn said.
Republican Senator Thom Tillis, another member of a bipartisan bargaining group, echoed Cornyn’s sentiments.
“Right now we’re trying to work on things that we agree on,” he said. “We need to get 60 votes. Hopefully we get 75 votes on this.”
Other potential areas of compromise include school security measures and.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who both negotiated a failed background check compromise bill in 2013, said Tuesday that senators were discussing strengthening the system background check.
“We’re talking about so many different variations,” Manchin said.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the different ways we can find flaws and – correct flaws, I should say – in our current background check system. Manchin-Toomey is one way to do that,” said Toomey about the bill he sponsored by Manchin. “There could be other ways.”
Senate Minority Whip John Thune said negotiations were taking place in “good faith” to hammer out a comprehensive package.
Cornyn told the Senate on Monday that the group was not talking about “banning any category of weapon at all levels,” and Thune defended Americans who buy AR-15s.
“It’s a sports rifle,” Thune said. “And that’s something that a lot of people use for target shooting. In my state, they use them for shooting prairie dogs and you know, other types of vermin.”