WASHINGTON — The top Democratic negotiator of a package of gun bills prompted by the recent mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, said Monday he hopes to reach a deal with his Republican counterparts this week.
“My hope is that we are able to come to an agreement by the end of the week,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in an interview Monday. “The discussions have been really positive. I still am hopeful we’ll be able to get a product."
"My goal is to have an agreement by the end of this week. And I don’t think that’s an unrealistic goal,” he said, adding that it may be more of an “outline” than detailed legislative text.
Murphy spoke hours before he was set to sit down in a face-to-face meeting in the Capitol with a handful of key negotiators: Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the leading Republican negotiator, and Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
“We’re meeting — working over dinner tonight. And I think we’re making progress,” Cornyn said in an interview Monday. “We’ve been talking and exchanging text messages.”
Cornyn also said an agreement could be reached this week, adding that negotiators “talked about a framework earlier, and I think we’re trying to figure out how to fill in the details.”
During the week after Memorial Day, while Congress was on recess, various groups of senators negotiated the different pieces of the gun package by phone and in virtual Zoom meetings.
Murphy characterized the current bipartisan talks as “more advanced than a week ago” and said the discussions still center on four pillars that have been discussed in the past: background checks, red flag laws, mental health and school security.
“Normally on this issue, two weeks into negotiations, they’re falling apart or they're non-existent,” Murphy added. “I think every day there is more seriousness about getting a product that we can present to our caucuses.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has blessed the negotiations and backed the goal of an agreement this week.
“We’re trying to get a bipartisan outcome here that makes a difference,” he told reporters Monday. “And hopefully, sometime this week, we’ll come together.”