A group of Republican and Democrat said Tuesday they had finally reached a deal on gun legislation after spending the long weekend working out kinks between the two sides and wrestling with a divisive abortion issue.
More than a week after a bipartisan group announcement agreement on a ‘framework’ agreement’ Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., the lead Democratic negotiator, said the final agreement was ‘in good shape.’
Top Republican negotiator Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who got booed at the party convention in his home state over the weekend, said he, Murphy and the other two top Senate bargainers had reached agreement.
The group of negotiators – which included Murphy, Kyrsten Sinema, Ariz., on the Democratic side and Sens. Cornyn and Thom Tillis, N.C., on the Republican side, had hoped to have the text of the legislation out by Monday but nothing came through.
It lacks the stronger gun control restrictions that President Joe Biden pushed for, and came together on a day when new details emerged of the failures of law enforcement to confront a mass shooter in Uvalde, Texas.
‘This bipartisan gun-safety legislation is progress and will save lives. While it is not everything we want. this legislation is urgently-needed,’ said Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer.
‘I support the bill text that Senator Cornyn and our colleagues have produced,’ said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
He attacked the ‘far left’ for having ‘falsely claimed that Congress could only address the terrible issue of mass murders by trampling on law-abiding Americans’ constitutional rights.’
‘This bill proves that false. Our colleagues have put together a commonsense package of popular steps that will help make these horrifying incidents less likely while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,’ McConnell added.
A GOP source told Politico that negotiators ran into a hiccup over the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. Republicans have fought to keep the amendment in place while Democrats have tried to undo it.
Cornyn told ABC Tuesday morning that he thought there could be bill text released today, ‘hopefully shortly,’ but the bill is hung up over ‘details.’
If the Senate moves forward procedurally on Tuesday the chamber could vote on the bill by the end of the week. If not, there is little hope that any bill will make it through before the two-week July 4 recess that begins at the end of this week.
Lawmakers have scrambled to cobble together a deal after a recent spate of mass shootings, most notably Uvalde, Texas where an 18-year-old gunman mowed down 19 children and two teachers.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has been heading negotiations for Republicans
Sen. Chris Murphy, Conn., has been heading negotiations for Democrats
Another provision that caused trouble last week was the so-called ‘boyfriend loophole.’ Last week Cornyn told CNN that the loophole ‘continues to be a challenge’ and one option is to ‘drop it’ from the package.
Democrats pushed to include the provision in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women act earlier this year, but it was stripped out under intense lobbying by gun rights groups before Biden signed the law earlier this year.
Current law prohibits people convicted of domestic violence from owning a firearm if the violence is against a spouse, a partner who they live with or a partner who they share children with. Democratic lawmakers have pushed the provision to include dating partners, convicted stalkers or anyone under a protective order.
The Washington Post reports that language closing the boyfriend loophole has been worked out and is a part of the legislation.
Pieces of the framework also include expanded background checks for those aged 18-21, funding to encourage states to implement red flag laws, funding for mental health and school safety and penalties for ‘straw purchases,’ or third party gun purchases.
Though the bill leaves out many Democratic priorities for gun control, Cornyn was still booed over the weekend at the Texas GOP convention in his hometown of Houston.
‘Democrats pushed for an assault weapons ban, I said no,’ Cornyn said. ‘They tried to get a new three-week mandatory waiting period for all gun purchases, I said no. Universal background checks, magazine bans, licensing requirements, the list goes on and on and on. And I said no, no, 1,000 times no,’ he told the hostile crowd.
Onlookers were chanting ‘no red flags’ and ‘say no to Cornyn,’ according to Houston Public Media.
‘We reject the so called ‘bipartisan gun agreement,’ and we rebuke Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham 1601 (R-S.C.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.),’ one resolution voted on by the delegates at the Texas GOP convention reads.
Cornyn, asked about the booing on Tuesday, said he is ‘all for people exercising their First Amendment right’ and it did not sway him in the negotiations.