FEINSTEIN GLOBAL WARMING

Dianne Feinstein says she’s concerned, yet mindful of the speaker’s decision.

By JOHN BRESNAHAN and MANU RAJU | 3/18/13 8:10 PM EDT

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on Monday that a controversial assault weapons ban will not be part of a Democratic gun bill that was expected to reach the Senate floor next month.

After a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday, a frustrated Feinstein said she learned that the bill she sponsored — which bans 157 different models of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines — wouldn’t be part of a Democratic gun bill to be offered on the Senate floor. Instead, it can be offered as an amendment. But its exclusion from the package makes what was already an uphill battle an almost certain defeat.

“My understanding is it will not be [part of the base bill],” Feinstein said. “It will be separate.”

Asked if she were concerned about the decision, Feinstein paused and said, “Sure. I would like to [see the bill moved], but the leader has decided not to do it.”

“You will have to ask him [Reid],” she said, when asked why the decision was made.

Reid’s decision highlights the tightrope walked by the majority leader in governing the gun control issue. Trapped between the White House and rank-and-file Democrats who support broad gun control legislation following the shootings last December in Newtown, Conn., Reid must also be mindful of red-state Democrats up for reelection in 2014 who favor gun rights.

And the decision to drop the assault weapons ban from the package illustrates the fact that any big changes to gun control legislation will still be challenging.

Aside from the ban, three other major pieces of gun legislation have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee: a gun trafficking bill, a Democrats-only background checks measure and a proposal to increase school safety.

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