But prospects remain murky for the rest of President Obama's gun-control agenda. While bipartisan talks continue over a measure to require universal background checks on all firearms sales, bills to ban assault weapons or high-capacity magazines look like a long shot to get to the 60-vote threshold.
To move the straw-purchasing bill forward, Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York merged their separate efforts and made several tweaks to meet Grassley’s approval.
It's unclear when the full Senate might take up the bill. Senators are expected to turn their attention to fiscal matters next week before adjourning for the two-week Easter break.
Passage in the Senate is key because House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio has signaled that his chamber will only take up gun legislation that can pass the Senate’s 60-vote threshold. A similar bill has bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, led by Rep. Scott Rigell (R) of Virginia and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) of Maryland.