Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), left and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) hold a press conference to discuss expanding background checks for firearms, in Washington DC on April 10, 2013. UPI/Molly Riley | License Photo
WASHINGTON, April 12 (UPI) -- A top Senate Republican said there is support among House Republicans for expanded gun sale background checks but few GOP House members have said so publicly.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. -- a key figure in developing compromise gun control legislation to be debated in the Senate -- said the "general approach" of his legislation has the support of "a substantial number of House Republicans."
"There are definitely Republicans in the House that support this," he told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday in announcing the compromise.
However, with a few notable exceptions -- such as Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., and Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa. -- few House Republicans have expressed support for the legislation, which grew out of public pressure following the Dec. 14 massacre of 20 children and six staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., The Hill reported Friday.
Senior House Republican aides said the issue does not come up much in leadership meetings, with leaders evidently intending to follow the strategy of Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to wait for the Senate to act first.
Boehner said Thursday if the Senate passes gun control legislation, it will be referred to the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.
"And I fully expect that the House will act in some way, shape or form," Boehner said.
Lawmakers have been working on proposals to advance mental illness treatment as part of gun control legislation, The New York Times said Friday.
Legislation being considered would finance an increase in the number of community mental health facilities, expand Medicare funding of mental health care and promote training of teachers in identifying mental illness among students, the report said.