Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

April 8, 2013

Senators work on deal expanding background checks

(Continued)

Obama planned to speak at the University of Hartford in Connecticut on Monday to continue trying to pressure Congress to move ahead on gun control legislation.

Also high on Congress' agenda is immigration, where a decisive moment is approaching.

Bipartisan groups in the House and Senate are expected to present legislation as early as this week aimed at securing the U.S. border, fixing legal immigration and granting legal status to millions who are in the United States without authorization. That will open months of debate on the politically combustible issue, with votes by the Senate Judiciary Committee expected later this month.

The House returns Tuesday and initially plans to consider a bill preventing the National Labor Relations Board from issuing rules until a dispute over administration appointees is resolved.

Lawmakers will also devote time to the 2014 budget that Obama plans to release Wednesday. It calls for new tax increases, which Republicans oppose, and smaller annual increases in Social Security and other government benefit programs, over the objections of many of the president's fellow Democrats.

Advocates' hopes were high for congressional action on gun restrictions following the December massacre of 20 first-graders and six staffers at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

But momentum seems to have dipped in recent weeks and it remains unclear whether the Democratic-run Senate will be able to approve any curbs considered major by gun control groups. An Obama-backed assault weapons ban seems all but dead, and a prohibition against ammunition magazines carrying over 10 rounds, also supported by the president, seems unlikely to survive.

Without support from some Republicans, a significant expansion of background checks won't be possible because there are only 53 Democrats in the Senate plus two Democratic-leaning independents. Conservative GOP senators have promised to use delaying tactics against gun legislation, which would take 60 votes to end.

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