WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Rob Portman voted against the Senate taking further action on gun control legislation Thursday, voicing his opposition to universal background checks proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer.
Portman, R-Ohio, also isn't certain he will support a compromise measure offered by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. That plan extends background check requirements to purchases made at gun shows and online, but it would not require them for personal transfers of gun ownership.
A cloture vote to allow the Senate to proceed to amendment stage on Senate Bill 649 passed Thursday with a vote of 68-31 and avoided a Republican filibuster. It addresses background checks, protecting schools against gun violence and gun trafficking.
The Manchin-Toomey compromise can now be added to the bill as an amendment. If approved, it would replace the comprehensive background checks suggested by Schumer, D-N.Y.
Manchin and Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, voted in favor of cloture, with Portman joining most Republicans in opposition.
Portman said he is "trying to figure what we can do that will actually help" curb gun violence in the United States. He supports the school safety and gun trafficking components of the bill, but suggested Congress also focus on tightening up existing law and prosecuting more cases where convicted felons have attempted to obtain guns. He said there is a "glorification of guns and violence" in America that needs to be addressed.
"That's s a deeper problem," he said. "I'm not suggesting Congress has the answer, but I don't think we're going to get at this problem until we get at this culture of violence - that's the kind of thing that's going to make a difference in terms of avoiding these kinds tragedies we saw in Newtown, (Conn.)."
Rockefeller and Brown also aren't saying whether they will support the Manchin-Toomey compromise.
"For our children, law enforcement officers and all innocent Americans, we must have an honest and productive discussion about improving gun safety in our country," Rockefeller said.
Ohio children and families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence deserve a vote on the Senate floor, Brown said.
"With some 90 percent of Americans supporting background checks, we know that the status quo is unacceptable," he said. "Never again should there be an empty chair at a high school graduation in Chardon, or anywhere in Ohio, because a child's life was cut short by gun violence."