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Senate agrees to gun-control debate

U.S. senators from Indiana split their votes on a motion that passed Thursday morning to advance gun-control legislation to debate and amendments.

Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly voted in favor of proceeding to the amendment stage, and Republican Sen. Dan Coats voted against the measure. Coats was among 13 Republican senators who signed a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., threatening to stall the legislation.

The Senate voted 68-31 to move forward to deliberations on Senate Bill 649, which would require background checks for all gun sales; make federal crimes of gun trafficking and “straw” sales of guns (where someone buys a gun for a person who cannot pass a background check); and provide safety grants to schools.

Sixty "aye" votes were required for the Senate to begin consideration of the bill.

“The hard work starts now,” Reid said after the vote, referring to forthcoming amendments to his gun-control bill.

In remarks broadcast by C-SPAN, Reid said he will schedule votes on amendments that would ban the sale of assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines. The process could take weeks.