Reid doesn't have the votes to pass gun control

The question now becomes, will he ever?


The White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are shy of the 60 votes they need to move the bipartisan compromise bill on background checks for gun sales.

Vice President Joe Biden has been personally calling senators to urge them to support the measure, Democratic aides say.

Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) began a whip count on Monday, Democratic aides said, and Biden has been pressuring his fellow Democrats to fall in line. Biden's office did not return an email seeking comment.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) are co-sponsoring the proposal that would expand background checks for commercial gun purchases -- including those at gun shows and online -- opening a pathway for the biggest change in U.S. gun laws in nearly two decades.

A cloture vote on the Manchin-Toomey could come by Thursday, Democrats said.

Toomey on Monday afternoon acknowledged they don't yet have the votes.

"I'm cautiously optimistic. We're not there at the moment but were working on it," Toomey said.


Manchin also said supporters were short of the votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster, but he remained hopeful that it would pass.

"We're still working it, it's very close," Manchin told reporters. "I agree [with Toomey], it's very close."

Manchin added: "I'm talking to everybody."

Manchin will appear with former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) on Tuesday to press for its passage. Giffords was seriously wounded in a January 2011 shooting that left six others dead. Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, have become high-profile backers of new gun regulations.

Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are attempting to hash out a floor procedure laying out votes on the Manchin-Toomey proposal.

If Democrasts cannot overcome a GOP filibuster on the background checks bill, any chances for major gun control legislation being enacted in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting would diminish dramatically.

With Republicans filibustering the Manchin-Toomey proposal, a cloture vote on the bill is likely to take place on Thursday at the earliest.

Manchin is whistling past the graveyard. Harry Reid's problem isn't the Republicans in the Senate, it is members of his own caucus that might derail gun control.

There may be 5 Republicans willing to vote for cloture on the background check amendment (Sens. McCain and Graham would vote to proceed but may not vote for the amendment), but there are several vulnerable Democrats running in 2014 in red states that have yet to commit to voting for any kind of gun control. Biden has been working the phones (Obama doesn't deign to do such dirty political work very often), but the Democratic fence sitters aren't budging:

Reid is likely to lose three of his 55 Senate Democrats -- Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.). All three Democrats said on Monday that they were still reviewing the proposal and would not commit to backing it.

Several other Democratic swing votes include Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mary Landrieu (La.), and Joe Donnelly (Ind.).

Might there be a few other Republicans - McConnell included - who would vote to proceed with debate but vote against the amendment? It's possible - especially if it looks like the amendment will go down to defeat. A stinging rejection of the background check would likely kill gun control legislation this session.

Reid may get his cloture vote. But odds are the background check amendment will be defeated by both Democrats and Republicans voting against it.