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Abortion provision latest hangup in Senate gun bill negotiations

Senate negotiators working on a gun safety bill in the wake of several mass shootings still haven’t released the text of their legislation, and a source familiar with the matter says the latest hangup was related to abortion. 

The source confirmed to Fox News Digital that negotiators were stuck on the inclusion of the Hyde Amendment in the bill, which not only would change the law on gun issues but also provide money for mental health and telehealth.  

The Hyde Amendment is a common legislative provision that bars federal money to pay for abortions except in extreme circumstances. Politico first reported that the Hyde Amendment is now a hangup in the negotiations. 

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There was optimism on Monday that negotiators could release the final text of the bill by the evening, but they were unable to do so. 

A source familiar told Fox News there is still optimism that lawmakers could finalize the text within the “next day or so,” especially considering there is apparently agreement on previous sticking points. Those include defining exactly who would be barred from owning a firearm to close the “boyfriend loophole” on domestic violence offenders, and the details of how the federal government would encourage state red flag laws. 

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., is the top Democrat leading Senate negotiations on a possible gun bill after recent mass shootings. 

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The leaders of the talks, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., still appear interested in finding common ground and passing something before the July 4 recess, which begins at the end of this week. Reuters reported Tuesday that Cornyn said negotiators are on a “glide path” to finalizing the text. Cornyn told Reuters he believed the lawmakers had come to an agreement on the Hyde amendment. 

But with the Supreme Court likely to hand down a decision within the next few weeks on a major abortion case that could reverse Roe v. Wade, the source familiar with the talks said the chance that Hyde significantly handicaps talks can’t be completely dismissed.

A group of 20 senators, including Murphy and Cornyn, agreed on the general framework for a gun bill earlier this month in the wake of several recent mass shootings. 

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has said he's optimistic the Senate can pass a gun safety bill before July 4. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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Those include one that was apparently racially motivated that killed 10 in a Buffalo supermarket. Another shooting at a Texas elementary school which killed 19 children and two adults was the catalyst for serious talks on gun-related legislation.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has approved of the talks and said he is likely to support the legislation as long as it’s consistent with the bipartisan agreement. Other Republicans outside of the initial group of 10 have indicated they may vote for it too. That would provide more than enough votes to clear the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has also said her Democrat majority would likely pass any legislation on gun safety the Senate agrees to. The timing for when the House would pass the bill – before or after July 4 – is unclear and likely to depend on how quickly the Senate moves. 

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