Senate lawmakers finalized negotiations on bipartisan gun and school safety legislation Monday, with the bill text expected to be made public as soon as lawmakers return to Washington on Tuesday.
Lawmakers at the heart of the negotiations say a deal was clinched after Democrats made concessions to bring wary Republicans on board. Democrats compromised on incentives for states to adopt red-flag laws and the broadening of restrictions on gun ownership for people accused or convicted of domestic violence.
“I’m confident that there’s serious negotiation that [are] very close,” President Biden told reporters while vacationing at his oceanside home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
The turnaround marks a significant change from where the negotiations stood last week. Lawmakers departed Washington on Thursday frustrated that the deal was mired in the weeds.
“Indecision and delay jeopardize the likelihood of a bill because you can’t write what is undecided and without a bill, there is nothing to vote on,” said Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican involved in the negotiations. “It’s fish or cut bait.”
Lawmakers notably were divided over whether federal subsidies should be provided equally for states with and without red flag laws, which allow courts to confiscate firearms from individuals deemed a threat. Republicans argued that since some states would never pass such legislation, the proposal should make money eligible for alternative programs such as crisis intervention.
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The standoff was resolved when Democrats agreed to split the money equally among all 50 states.
“I think we’re in a better place in terms of the grants to states that have crisis intervention programs,” Mr. Cornyn said.
Lawmakers similarly resolved issues over how to restrict gun ownership for people convicted or accused of domestic violence.
The breakthrough means the full legislation will be available when Congress returns to Capitol Hill on Tuesday. With the bill text finalized, Senate leaders are pushing for a vote before lawmakers depart for a two-week recess starting June 24.
That timeline is unlikely to be met, however. Republican opponents of the bill are expected to use an arsenal of legislative procedures to block speedy consideration of the bill.
Such tactics are destined to fail if the measure garners the support of at least 10 Republican senators in the 50-50 Senate. More than 11 Republicans have signaled their support of the framework agreement upon which the bill text is based.
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