Sources say abortion funding has emerged as the latest snag in the Senate’s talks to finalize a bipartisan agreement on addressing gun violence, with an informal deadline looming at the end of Tuesday in order to keep a potential bill on track for a vote before the holiday recess.
Negotiators working to turn the agreed-upon legislative framework into draft text are now focusing on the Hyde Amendment, which forbids federal funding from being used to pay for abortions. That provision has gotten caught up in the portion of the possible gun law dealing with mental health funding, with Republicans pushing for language barring any money in an ultimate agreement from being used pay for abortions, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The snag marks the latest curveball in discussions that sources have said would have to result in legislative text by the end of Tuesday in order to pass a bill before the two-week break for July 4.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the lead Republican working on the deal, expressed optimism to ABC News on Tuesday that an agreement could be reached later that day, saying that draft text would emerge “hopefully shortly.”
Still, Cornyn said — without elaborating — that certain “details” needed to be worked out.
“It’s a complicated bill and it’s been a tough negotiation,” he said.
The other core negotiators are Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
The gun talks have recently focused on two other disagreements: funding for “red flag” laws, which would allow law enforcement to remove firearms from those deemed a danger to themselves or others, and how extensively to address the “boyfriend loophole” by expanding the kinds of domestic abusers barred from having firearms.
Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, the Senate majority whip, suggested to ABC News on Tuesday that conversations over the Hyde Amendment could be resolved quickly and aides were still optimistic that an overall deal would not be derailed.
Negotiators are pressing for a bill that can get the filibuster-proof support of 10 Republican senators, the same number who previously supported the framework announced on June 12.
Democrats want a deal to be wrapped up shortly to maintain momentum amid public outcry following high-profile mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. Republicans, meanwhile, are facing calls from their base to blunt the gun-access aspects of any legislation, with that pressure on display over the weekend when Cornyn was booed at a state party convention in Texas.
When asked by ABC News on Tuesday if that made negotiations more difficult, Cornyn replied, “Oh no. No it hasn’t.”