April 8, 2013

Senators get closer to deal on gun checks

A bipartisan plan could give Obama the breakthrough he is looking for, but some are threatening a filibuster.


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In hopes of increasing public support for passage of a gun bill, Obama on Monday will fly to Connecticut -- where emotions are still raw more than 100 days after the massacre -- to deliver a speech on gun violence at the University of Hartford.

On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden will hold a gun-control event at the White House with law enforcement leaders, while first lady Michelle Obama will return Wednesday to her hometown of Chicago to speak about gun violence from the perspective of a mother. Over the past couple of years, Chicago has experienced a surge in gun violence.

But Republicans also are mounting a campaign to stop new gun legislation. At least 13 Senate Republicans, led by Rand Paul, Ky., Mike Lee, Utah, Ted Cruz, Texas, and Marco Rubio, Fla., are threatening to block any new gun legislation, with aides expecting more GOP senators to sign on to the filibuster threat when they return to Washington this week.

"The Second Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens' right to self-defense," the senators wrote in a letter they plan to send to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday. "It speaks to history's lesson that government cannot be in all places at all times, and history's warning about the oppression of a government that tries."

Dan Pfeiffer, a senior Obama adviser, warned Sunday that any filibuster would go against an overwhelming majority of the country.

"What the president wants to sign is a strong, bipartisan bill with enforceable background checks," Pfeiffer said on "Fox News Sunday." "That has 90 percent support. It can get done."

Pfeiffer recalled Obama's State of the Union address in February, in which the emotional high point was his call for a vote on gun-control measures.

With families of Newtown victims, as well as former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was shot in her Tucson district, in attendance, Republican and Democratic lawmakers stood in applause.

"Now that the cameras are off and the families aren't there, they are engaging in legislative tactics to make this harder," Pfeiffer said of Senate Republicans. "There's no reason we have to do that. And, as the president said, politics is the only reason this stuff won't get done."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also called on conservatives not to filibuster gun-control measures on the Senate floor because Reid has said he is open to permitting votes on GOP amendments.

Portland Press Herald Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller contributed to this report.


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