The Senate rejected a compromise proposal to expand background checks on gun purchases, dealing a blow to the core of legislative efforts to curb massacres such as the one at a Connecticut school in December.
The 54-46 vote came on an amendment by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. Sixty votes were necessary to get around a filibuster – a tall order because it meant drawing on Republican support to make up for losing majority-party Democrats.
Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Max Baucus of Montana and Mark Begich of Alaska—who are up for re-election in 2014 in red states—and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota were among the early "no" votes.