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Vote Delayed on Background Check Measure as Whipping Continues

A Senate vote on a measure to expand the nation’s background check system has been pushed back, likely to late this week or early next week, according to a source tracking the negotiations.

It became increasingly clear late Monday the bipartisan background check bill — championed by Sens. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va.; Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa.; Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill. — would not be able to get enough votes to clear a 60-vote filibuster hurdle on Tuesday, when votes originally had been planned.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., announced late in the evening he would not support the measure.

“Manchin-Toomey would expand background checks far beyond commercial sales to include almost all private transfers — including between friends and neighbors — if the posting or display of the ad for a firearm was made public. It would likely even extend to message boards, like the one in an office kitchen. This simply goes too far,” Flake said in a Facebook post.

Only 52 senators so far have committed to voting for the bill, leaving only a few undecided votes in play. Six Democrats and three Republicans are still undecided, meaning if no one else suddenly flips position, it could be very difficult for the measure to get the votes necessary to pass.

Two sources tracking gun issues said negotiators just needed more time.

The senators still undecided are Democrats Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Max Baucus of Montana, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Begich of Alaska and Republicans Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Dean Heller of Nevada and John McCain of Arizona.

Also complicating the timing of the vote is Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and William “Mo” Cowan have returned to Massachusetts in the aftermath of the explosions near the finish line of the event, with no timetable immediately available for their return to the Capitol. Both Democrats are expected to cast votes in favor of the background check amendment.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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