Sen. Susan Collins on Saturday became the first Republican to publicly say she will vote in favor of tighter gun legislation, but sponsors of the bill that expands background checks still worry the vote is too close to call.
“We’ll need more, I can tell you that,” West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said on Weekends with Alex Witt Sunday. Manchin toured the Sunday show circuit with his Republican colleague and fellow sponsor of the bill, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, to promote the legislation. Both senators have “A” ratings with the National Rifle Association.
“I think it’s an open question as to whether or not we have the votes. I think it’s going to be close,” Toomey said on CNN Sunday.
Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, who worked with Manchin and Toomey during the negotiations, is also expected to vote in favor of the background checks. And Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain on Sunday said he was ”very favorably disposed” to the legislation.
Manchin and Toomey’s bill cleared its first hurdle Thursday, after 68 senators voted to open debate on the Senate floor. Two Democrats broke ranks and voted against the debate: Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska. Both senators are up for re-election in 2014 in relatively red states.
“Voting ‘no’ is an easy vote,” said Manchin of the two Democratic defectors and how voting “nay” is easier than having to persuade voters on legislation.
“If you’re a law-abiding gun owner in America and you read this bill, you’re going to like the things that treat you like a law-abiding gun owner,” said Manchin. “If you’re a criminal or you’ve been mentally adjudicated and you try to buy a gun online, or at a gun show, you’re not going to like this bill.”