The House is taking a wait-and-see approach before moving on any gun control measures, as the Senate prepares to vote on its own package that could include a new agreement on expanding background checks to gun shows and other sales venues.
“We’ll wait and see what the Senate does,” House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday at a Capitol Hill press conference.
Boehner made the comment shortly before Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania announced plans to introduce an amendment to backgrounds checks for gun shows and online sales.
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The measure, which would also explicitly ban the federal government from creating a national registry of gun owners, could be added to a larger gun bill the Senate is scheduled to begin debating Thursday or taken up separately.
The Manchin-Toomey amendment would also create a national commission to study the causes of gun violence in the United States, including everything from mental health issues and the affect of violent video games to the lack of proper school safety and security measures.
“We have a culture of gun violence,” Manchin said. “Today is just the start of a healthy debate.”
The background check agreement and movement in the Senate toward floor consideration of the larger gun bill were a boost for advocates of new firearms restrictions. An intense lobbying campaign by President Barack Obama and parents of the 20 school children killed last December in Newtown, Conn., helped moved some senators to say they would at least allow a debate on the issue, if not support for the proposals in a final vote.
Still, there were rumblings that some lawmakers would still try to block consideration of any new gun legislation.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who has been threatening a filibuster along with dozen of his GOP colleagues, scheduled a news conference for Wednesday morning and then failed to show up.
Catherine Frazier, his spokeswoman, blamed a scheduling conflict, but said her boss would not back down from his filibuster threat.
“Bottom line is he doesn’t believe we should be having up-and-down votes on the Second Amendment,” Frazier told the Dallas Morning News. “We should not be debating an inalienable right that is in the Constitution.”
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