WASHINGTON — The Senate set a vote for today on a bipartisan plan for expanding background checks to more firearms buyers, with supporters facing an uphill path to victory.
By scheduling the roll call, Senate leaders ensured a showdown over the cornerstone of an effort by gun control supporters to tighten firearms laws after December's killings of 20 students and six aides at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
The Senate planned to vote on eight other amendments as well to a Democratic gun control bill that besides expanding background checks, would tighten laws against gun trafficking and boost school safety aid.
They included Democratic proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, which are expected to lose; a Republican proposal requiring states to honor other states' permits allowing concealed weapons, which faces a close vote; and a broad GOP substitute for the overall gun measure.
The focus of both sides has been on a compromise by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., broadening background checks. It will be the first amendment voted today.
No. 2 Democratic leader Richard Durbin of Illinois said the votes of nine or 10 Republicans would be needed to win the vote on background checks.
The checks are aimed at keeping criminals and the seriously mentally ill from getting firearms.