Senate Negotiators Finalize ‘Bipartisan Breakthrough’ on Gun Reform Bill | Politics

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday evening released the text of legislation to curb gun violence, overcoming another hurdle as the Senate looks to vote on the bill by the end of the week.

Since striking a deal, senators in both parties have been working quickly to write the legislation and tie up loose ends on the compromise so it can go to the floor before they leave for holiday recess. The drafting of the bill took a little longer than expected after hitting a few speed bumps, but the finalization on Tuesday means it can now proceed.

The text of the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act” largely mirrors the original agreement, which would enhance background checks for individuals seeking to buy firearms under age 21, provide $500 million in funding for more mental health service providers in schools, establish the first federal law against gun trafficking and straw purchasing and create $750 million in funding to incentivize states to create “red flag” laws, which allow a court to temporarily block people from buying guns if they’re a threat to themselves or others.

Perhaps the most notable reform, the legislation also seeks to close the “boyfriend loophole” to prevent individuals from purchasing a firearm if they’ve been convicted of domestic abuse against a dating partner. In the bill, individuals who are charged with a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence would get their rights restored after five years if they’re a first-time offender and didn’t have other convictions.

“I believe that this week we’ll pass legislation that’ll become the most significant piece of anti-gun violence legislation Congress will have passed in 30 years. This is a breakthrough and more importantly it’s a bipartisan breakthrough,” said Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who has championed gun safety legislation since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting nearly a decade ago. “It is a path forward to the way that both Republicans and Democrats can work together to address some of the most vexing, most difficult challenges this nation faces.”

The Senate is now looking to try and pass the legislation through the split 50-50 chamber as quickly as possible, especially since lawmakers leave for the July 4 recess at the end of the week. To start the process, senators could take a procedural vote as early as Tuesday night.

With a divided chamber, the legislation needs at least 10 Republicans to support it, which the group said it already had when members released the initial agreement. Most bills in the Senate need to reach the 60-vote threshold to overcome a potential filibuster.

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“I believe that as senators see the text that supports those principles they will see we’ve tried our best to be true to what we said those agreed principles should be,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the GOP’s lead negotiator, said Tuesday evening before the release of the bill text. “I’m confident this legislation moves us in the positive direction.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has repeatedly said he’ll put the bill up for a vote immediately after receiving the text. If the procedural vote happens quickly without any senators holding it up, they can possibly wrap up passage by Friday or the weekend. The bill would then need to clear the House before President Joe Biden could sign it into law.

“I will now put this life-saving legislation on the Senate floor for a vote, with an initial procedural vote as soon as tonight and, following that, we will move to final passage as quickly as possible,” Schumer said Tuesday. “While it is not everything we want, this legislation is urgently needed.”

Overall Republican support is still in flux, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell formally put his support behind the legislation. He said last week that if the bill text “reflects” the framework agreement, the Kentucky Republican would vote for it.

The leader’s support could create more momentum for additional GOP support, though his colleagues could be particularly hesitant voting for such an issue months ahead of the November midterm elections and the fear of turning off base voters who highly prioritize Second Amendment rights. But members in both parties have pointed to broad support for the bill.

“I support the bill text that Sen. Cornyn and our colleagues have produced,” McConnell said. “Our colleagues have put together a commonsense package of popular steps that will help make these horrifying incidents less likely while upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”

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