Booze and a Boat Helped Forge Senate Gun Compromise, Sen. Mark Kirk Says

By DNAinfo Staff on April 11, 2013 12:11pm  | Updated on April 11, 2013 12:55pm

 Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) is a co-owner of a 2001 540 Sea Ray Sundance yacht like this one. The 54-foot boat played a role in bringing congressmen together to forge a compromise on gun legislation, said Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)  
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) is a co-owner of a 2001 540 Sea Ray Sundance yacht like this one. The 54-foot boat played a role in bringing congressmen together to forge a compromise on gun legislation, said Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)  
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File Photo

CHICAGO — Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, who on Thursday broke with most of his party on proposed gun-control legislation, said booze and a boat helped move the matter forward.

Kirk told reporters in Washington that members from both parties who were open to compromise often met on the Black Tie, a vessel partially owned by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

"Sometimes alcoholic beverages might be served and ties might ... get loosened," Kirk said, according to a report by Roll Call.

"You guys really ought to go out to National Harbor and see the Black Tie, which has been much of the reason for much of the bipartisan cooperation around here," Kirk said.

Though from opposite parties, Manchin and Kirk are described as close friends.

Manchin seemed taken off guard when asked about the role of the Black Tie by the Washington Post.

"What did you find out about that?" he asked a Post reporter.

When asked if the Black Tie is a yacht or a pontoon, Manchin replied, "It's an older, big boat."

"But we can get 10 or more senators and have a good time. And you know what? We can go out there, and you can't find us. We go out on the Potomac. You build relationships," Manchin said.

"Just beer, pizza, whatever, just have a good time. But it was a way to break the ice," Manchin said. "Cheapest thing you can do is feed people."

He and Kirk kept adding congressmen from both parties to the boat, a 2001 540 Sea Ray Sundancer which Manchin has said he owns with other partners.

A typical Sundancer yacht features two bedrooms, a wet bar, a washer and dryer, an entertainment center and a 600-gallon gas tank.

The yacht has proved to be a problem for Manchin in the past. In 2005, when Manchin was governor of West Virginia, he used a state plane with two friends to pick up the boat in Mobile, Ala., where it was being repaired.

After asked about using the state plane by the Charleston Gazette, Manchin reimbursed the state $5,400 for the flight.

 Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), ditch their caucus lunches every Thursday and eat together in bipartisan fashion.
Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), ditch their caucus lunches every Thursday and eat together in bipartisan fashion.
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Getty Images/Douglas Graham

On Thursday, Kirk was one of 16 Republicans who voted with most Democrats to derail a GOP vote-blocking effort to filibuster the gun measure.

The bill, which expands background checks for gun buyers to gun shows and Internet sales and makes it harder for gun traffickers to operate — something Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy strongly support — will now be debated, though the final vote could take weeks.

Kirk has said he has been motivated, in part, by the death of Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton.

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