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The last time we checked in on this, lead GOP negotiator John Cornyn was annoyed that the two sides hadn’t reached a deal and opted to skip town, telling Democrats that they knew where to find him if they wanted to talk. The two sides were supposed to have agreed to terms by Thursday night so that legislative text would be available over the weekend, with a final vote to be held later this week before the July 4 recess. Instead he bugged out and went home to Texas, where he was greeted by an avalanche of boos at the state GOP convention on Friday.

Once the timetable slipped and “serious doubts” arose, the whispers began: Is anything going to pass? If it’s now or never on getting something done and the two parties have missed the deadline for “now,” logically “never” is the only alternative.

But no, according to Punchbowl, there was a breakthrough over the weekend. The booing didn’t scare Cornyn off.

The discussions were hung up over two key issues – the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” and providing funds to states that don’t implement red flag laws but instead have crisis intervention programs.

The “boyfriend loophole” refers to the fact that domestic abusers are prohibited from buying guns, but only if they’re married or have a longtime relationship with the victim, including having a child. Democrats have sought to expand this prohibition to cover dating partners, but Cornyn and Republicans have had concerns about how this is implemented.

However, there appears to have been some concessions by Democrats on both these issues, and the negotiations are moving forward again.

There are no specifics, unfortunately, but Cornyn had wanted to expand the federal grants to the states aimed at encouraging them set up red-flag systems so that the money can be used for “crisis intervention” more broadly. Democrats want to give the courts power to bar dangerous people from owning guns; Cornyn’s position, if I understand him correctly, is that we should focus on treating dangerous people and turning them into not-dangerous ones. If it’s true that Dems have made concessions then maybe the red-flag angle to this bill will be substantially weaker in the final compromise than we expected.

Fox News is hearing that legislative language could be ready sometime today:

Bipartisan Senate negotiators may release the bill text Monday of a deal struck earlier this month on gun-related legislation, after negotiations began to pick up steam in recent days, a source familiar confirmed to Fox News…

NBC News first reported that a text could be released Monday, although talks that seemed to be gaining steam last week did not result in a bill before the weekend. Senators are hoping to have something passed before the July 4 recess. It’s not clear they will be able to do so with just a handful of days left before they’re set to leave town.

Republicans have Democrats over a barrel and both sides seem to know it. Dems want any deal they can get, knowing that anything the GOP might agree to will lack 99 percent of the stuff the left wants. Once those terms of engagement are set, it becomes largely academic whether the bill has one percent of what liberals like or half a percent. The point is to tighten access to guns however little they can before they’re out of power in Congress for a decade and to break the ice with Republicans by showing them that they can they support a gun deal without risking their Senate seats. Just ask Rick Scott, who signed Florida’s red-flag law as governor and then promptly got elected to the Senate — during a blue-wave year, no less.

Cornyn appears to have understood where the leverage in the negotiation is. From his perspective, a test of strength over red-flag grants and the boyfriend loophole may have been a no-lose proposition. If he held his ground and Chris Murphy and the Dems caved, then great. Cornyn could say he drove a hard bargain in hopes of impressing his colleagues, who will soon-ish need to consider a successor to Mitch McConnell. If instead Murphy and the Dems had balked and quit the deal, that’s fine too. Then Cornyn could say he stood fast on principle and that Democrats, not the GOP, were ultimately to blame for the compromise collapsing. The next time the media wants to complain that Republicans won’t do anything on guns, righties could remind them that it was Murphy and Schumer, not Cornyn and McConnell, who tanked this deal.

Faced with that conundrum, Murphy bent a little on what Cornyn wanted, per Punchbowl.

As for Cornyn getting booed, I wonder if he looked at the platform the Texas GOP passed this weekend and rolled his eyes. It’s neo-Bircher stuff — insisting that Biden wasn’t legitimately elected, calling for a referendum on secession, endorsing the abolition of the Fed, even singling out homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice,” something that hadn’t been included in the 2018 and 2020 state platforms. Go figure that Birchers would boo Cornyn over a modest gun deal that many other Texas Republicans might support. He’ll worry about the fringe in 2024, the next time he faces a primary. And by then he may be the Senate majority leader, giving Texas voters extra reason to stick with him.

Assuming the deal comes together and passes, as expected, Republicans will need someone to sell the base on the virtues of red-flag laws. In lieu of an exit question, may I recommend this guy?