Two senators leading negotiations on a possible deal on gun background checks confirmed that they couldn’t reach an agreement.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters on Wednesday that he was negotiating with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on a potential deal but talks were cut off. Murphy confirmed in a statement released later that the talks have indeed broken down.
“I’ve spent a lot of time talking with Senator Cornyn about proposals to increase background checks. I have been very open to compromise and I think Senator Cornyn was negotiating in good faith,” he said. “But we haven’t been able to get to a bill that would meaningfully increase the number of gun sales that require background checks.”
Murphy said that he is speaking with other Republican senators about other gun-control proposals.
“The good news is that I’m still talking with other Republican colleagues about different proposals to expand background checks,” he added, “and I’m committed to getting something done.”
Cornyn told The Hill that Murphy “didn’t think we were making any headway so we’re no longer having any talks on a regular basis” regarding gun legislation. He added that both his and Murphy’s staff “worked hard” but were not able “to reach a conclusion.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said he would bring gun-control legislation to the Senate floor soon.
Earlier in the year, the House passed two Democrat-backed bills to expand background checks. With the divided 50-50 Senate, those bills were unlikely to gain enough support to overcome the 60-vote filibuster, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) previously signaled opposition to the bills.
Murphy told the Wall Street Journal that Democrats in the Senate are looking at taking out some provisions from the House-passed bill.
“It won’t be universal. We’re looking at an expansion of existing checks,” he said. “Don’t count us out yet.”
But Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said that he was skeptical Democrats could find nine other Republican votes in the Senate.
“It’s not clear to me that we get 60 at this point,” he said, referring to the filibuster, according to the Wall Street Journal. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) during a Monday Senate floor speech signaled strong opposition to Democrat-backed gun bills and described them as part of the “Left’s war on the Second Amendment.”
In the meantime, Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have introduced separate bills targeting so-called “assault weapons” as well as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
Feinstein announced in March that she re-introduced a bill (pdf) that would ban the sale of 205 firearms, including commonly owned ones. The bill also bans ammunition magazines that hold 11 rounds or more—similar to bans that were handed down in California and New York state.
Menendez’s bill, introduced in April, would ban the sale, transfer, possession, manufacture, or importation of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds.
The two respective bills were at the time denounced by gun-rights and gun industry groups as unconstitutional power grabs.