By Manu Raju, CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent
Sen. Chris Murphy, the lead Democratic negotiator on gun control legislation, told CNN on Friday he expected talks over policy proposals to intensify next week — and noted there are a lot of “outstanding” issues that haven’t been resolved.
Among them: Whether to raise the age to 21 to purchase semi-automatic rifles, something that Senate sources say has yet to get much traction in the talks and are skeptical could be included in any final deal.
“I don’t know yet whether there’s enough support to get to 60 votes on that,” Murphy told CNN of raising the purchasing age. “There’s a lot of outstanding questions that we’ll have to answer next week.”
Murphy, who said he’s “growing more optimistic each day” that a deal can be reached, indicated that talks would likely take up a good chunk of next week, though he indicated some discussions were likely over the weekend as well. Next week is the critical week to see if a deal can be brokered, he reiterated.
“I know attention to this crisis is very fleeting,” Murphy said in the Capitol. “I have a sense of urgency of getting a piece of legislation that we can shop to colleagues. I don’t know what we’ll have by Monday.”
Murphy also indicated that the White House has not been directly involved in the talks, though he noted that officials are getting regular briefings.
“They know we need our space — so we are in regular touch with the White House, but they know that this ultimately has to be a deal in the Senate,” Murphy said. The senator also said that the House’s flurry of gun-related bills won’t influence how they act in the Senate.
“I think their process next week is going to be very important and very emotional. But we’re gonna have to find our own path forward in the Senate,” Murphy said.
Murphy indicated that the Senate talks are centered around a handful of issues: Upgrading school security, bolstering the country’s mental health system, expanding background checks and pushing states to implement tougher red flag laws. Other issues are still part of the talks, including rules on gun trafficking between states and ways to get Americans to safely store their guns at home.
But all those issues still need to be ironed out — along with the price tag for the plan and whether the costs need to be offset to avoid increasing the deficit, an issue that could derail the talks. Murphy said he didn’t know if the plan’s cost would need to be offset with spending cuts to win GOP support.
On safely storing guns at home, Murphy said that Republicans have offered ideas to provide financial incentives for gun owners, even as Democrats have pushed for mandates on how individuals can store guns. Murphy sounded open to the GOP ideas, but said: “I don’t know whether we will be able to find common ground on that issue.”
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