By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator John Cornyn, the lead Republican negotiator in bipartisan gun legislation talks, told Reuters on Tuesday that negotiators expected to introduce a bill to address mass shootings later in the day.
The Texas Republican said negotiators, including his fellow Republican Senator Thom Tillis and Democratic Senators Chris Murphy and Kyrsten Sinema, spoke early in the day by phone and were now waiting for staff to produce legislative text.
“I think we're on a glide path, and hopefully it will land shortly,” Cornyn said in an interview shortly after speaking with his fellow negotiators. He added that he expected the bill to be introduced on the Senate floor later in the day but gave no specific time.
Introducing the bill on Tuesday would improve the odds of Senate passage before lawmakers leave for their two-week July 4 break at the end of this week.
The bipartisan group has been working on a deal to curb gun violence since a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, less than two weeks after a racist shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, left 10 dead. Talks have bogged down in recent days.
The group announced a framework deal more than a week ago. But talks had bogged over a few issues, including whether to include “Hyde Amendment” language to prevent the proposal from being used to pay for abortions.
Asked if the abortion impasse had been overcome, Cornyn said: “Yes. I believe so. Hyde applies.”
The measure does not go as far as Democrats including President Joe Biden had sought, but, if passed, would still be the most significant action to combat gun violence to emerge from Congress in years.
Lawmakers had also been negotiating over a provision to encourage states to adopt “red flag” laws, in which guns can be temporarily taken away from people who are deemed dangerous; and a “boyfriend loophole:” authorities can block abusive spouses from buying firearms but not “intimate partners” who are not married.
Cornyn walked out of the talks on Thursday, demanding that the red flag provision also allow funding for states that opt for other intervention methods instead.
The next day, at his state's Republican convention, he was booed as he discussed the bill in a speech.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)