Top Senate negotiators Tuesday agreed to the details of a much-anticipated gun bill and released its text as they seek to take action in the wake of recent mass shootings.
A group including Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., completed work on the text of a bill Tuesday, Cornyn said on the Senate floor. The senators' offices released it shortly thereafter.
"Today, we finalized bipartisan, commonsense legislation to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country," they said in a statement. "Our legislation will save lives and will not infringe on any law-abiding American’s Second Amendment rights. We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our commonsense legislation into law."
Those four were part of a larger group including 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats who agreed to a framework of "principles" earlier this month. Speaking on the Senate floor late Tuesday afternoon, Cornyn said that he believes as those senators see the bill they will "see that the text supports these principles."
The bill immediately garnered further bipartisan support, and cleared a procedural vote Tuesday night 64-34.
"I support the bill text that Senator Cornyn and our colleagues have produced," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. "For years, the far left falsely claimed that Congress could only address the terrible issue of mass murders by trampling on law-abiding Americans’ constitutional rights. This bill proves that false."
McConnell added: "Our colleagues have put together a commonsense package of popular steps that will help make these horrifying incidents less likely while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens."
"This bipartisan gun-safety legislation is progress and will save lives. While it is not everything we want, this legislation is urgently needed," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. "I will now put this life-saving legislation on the Senate floor for a vote, with an initial procedural vote as soon as tonight and, following that, we will move to final passage as quickly as possible."
While enough Senate Republicans votede for the bill in a procedural vote Tuesday, not all conservatives are backing it.
The National Rifle Association issued a statement of opposition. "We will oppose this gun control legislation because it falls short on every level," the group said. "It does little to truly address violent crime while opening the door to unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom by law-abiding gun owners."
"I do not support this legislation and will continue to vote against it," Senate Republican Conference Chair John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said. "As a senator from Wyoming, I know the meaning of the Second Amendment. I will not vote for any legislation that would jeopardize the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens."
The breakthrough Tuesday came after the negotiators struggled with multiple hurdles during their negotiations.
The details of who would be barred from owning a firearm to close the "boyfriend loophole" on domestic violence offenders, and the details of how the federal government would encourage state red flag laws, led to delays last week.
Then, after optimism that the bill would be released Monday, a last-second hangup on the Hyde Amendment appeared to push back the release a little longer.
But with the July 4 recess bearing down and senators itching to take some action before leaving town, senators finally agreed on all the details and released the text.
The "boyfriend loophole" is what critics see as a blind spot in federal law that prevents convicted domestic violence offenders who aren't married from having their gun rights revoked. The bill would add people in a "dating relationship" to those who could lose their gun rights for committing domestic violence.
The bill defines a "dating relationship" as "a relationship between individuals who have or have recently had a continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature." That relationship would be determined based on "the length of the relationship… the nature of the relationship… the frequency and the type of interaction between the individuals."
The bill says a "casual acquaintanceship or ordinary fraternization in a business or social context does not constitute a dating relationship."
In what Republicans considered a win, a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence would get their gun rights back after five years.
It will likely take until later this week or the weekend before the bill clears the Senate, if it has the votes to pass.
It is not clear whether the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will be able to pass the bill before July 4, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has indicated that her members would pass it even if the Senate bill does not go as far as Democrats want.