enate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks to the press after the weekly Senate Democrats policy luncheon on March 19, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Senate is expected to pass a revised continuing resolution and send their edits back to the House in order to prevent a government shutdown next week, but any action in the Senate may be delayed until later in the week. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)
Susan Davis and Gregory Korte, USA TODAY
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate will vote Thursday to end a Republican filibuster of gun legislation. "We need to move to this legislation ... and let the cards fall where they may," he told reporters following a closed-door Democratic meeting Tuesday.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., still has not secured a bipartisan compromise on background-check legislation, which Reid had hoped to add to a broader package of gun measures. "In the meantime, we're going to move forward," Reid said.
Manchin is working with a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline and said he would update reporters after that.
On Monday, 14 Republican senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said they would filibuster to block votes on the Democratic gun legislation.
If Democrats fail to achieve the 60-vote threshold required to end the filibuster, Reid pledged to use procedural tricks provided to the majority leader to gum up the Senate legislative calendar to continue to force votes on gun legislation. "It will take a little bit of time, but we're going to do it," he said.
It is unclear whether there are 60 votes in the Senate to end the filibuster, and Reid conceded he did not know either. At least six Republican senators have said they will vote with Democrats to end the filibuster and allow an up-or-down vote on the gun bill. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., is ill and will not be in the Senate this week to vote, and at least two leading Democrats, Sens. Max Baucus of Montana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, have not said whether they will support Reid's effort to move to the gun bill.
"I have not leaned on any of my Democratic senators," Reid said. "I try never to do that."
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, defended the filibuster. "In my view, every senator has a responsibility to actively protect the Bill of Rights," he said. "Any bill that would undermine the Bill of Rights, in my view, should be subject to a 60-vote threshold."
But he deflected questions on whether he had enough senators to block a vote, or whether Tea Party-allied senators would take to the floor in a "talking filibuster," such as the one Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., conducted last month on President Obama's nominee to head the CIA.
"I would be happy spending the next two or three weeks on the floor of the Senate debating this," Cruz said. "There's an irony to the calls for 'Let's have a debate.' We're having the debate right now."