Toomey on gun laws: GOP didn't want to be seen helping Obama
May 1st, 2013
08:46 PM ET
12 months ago

Toomey on gun laws: GOP didn't want to be seen helping Obama

(CNN) - Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania blamed political polarization for the failure of last month's background check compromise he reached with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, saying some in his party simply voted against the measure to prevent the president from winning a legislative victory.

"In the end, it didn't pass because we're so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it," Toomey said.

"The toughest thing to do in politics is to do the right thing when your supporters think the right thing is something else," he added.

His comments came in an interview Tuesday with a roundtable of Digital First Media editors in the offices of the Times Herald newspaper in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

According to the editors at the meeting, Toomey clarified his comment, saying he meant to say Republicans in general, not just his GOP colleagues in the Senate.

Toomey was one of four Republicans who voted on a measure to expand the background check system so that it covers private sales at gun shows and online. Five Democrats voted against the proposal (including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who voted no so he could bring the bill back up later).

In a 54-46 vote, the measure failed to reach the 60 votes needed to move forward in the Senate. Along with the background checks legislation, a ban on assault weapons also went down in defeat.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday in a news conference that he suspected there were Republican members in Congress who vote against their instincts for political purposes.

"Their base thinks that compromise with me is somehow a betrayal. They're worried about primaries. And I understand all that. And we're going to try to do everything we can to create a permission structure for them to be able to do what's going to be best for the country," he said. "But it's going to take some time."

The president and gun control advocates chided lawmakers for failing to pass the proposal, the only one that had a real shot of passing among the slew of gun proposals brought forward in the wake of the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

While Obama, Reid and gun control groups have vowed to keep up the pressure and bring the legislation back for a vote down the road, Toomey expressed doubt that a second vote will happen soon.

"Reid could bring it up for a vote at any time, but we need five people to change their minds," Toomey said.

"It's a pretty heavy lift to get five senators to change their mind on a big issue like this," he added. "It's not likely to happen any time soon. I hope people will reconsider over time."

His comments sounded less enthusiastic compared with those made by Manchin. The senator from West Virginia said Sunday he believes the measure is still alive and together they can persuade enough lawmakers to support it.

"I truly believe if we have time to sell the bill, and people read the bill," it will gain support, Manchin said. "I'm willing to go anywhere in this country, I'm going to debate anybody on this issue, read the bill and you tell me what you don't like."

– CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Gun control • Gun rights • Joe Manchin • Pat Toomey
soundoff (555 Responses)
  1. tom bhai

    wow really? What's happening to America? Ego, Greed, Power, Jealousy, back stabbing is now new Normal among these public officials? And they will be elected again by the same people who sent them to Washington? Let me get out of this news by saying "I feel sad for America". It is a free fall. Sad.

    May 1, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  2. Jack

    This has been going on since Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity hijacked the leadership of the Republican Party in 2009! And Tea Party whiners

    May 1, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  3. bsten

    Gee the GOP was not willing to work with the other side? What a shock. VOTE THESE RELIC BUFFOONS OUT OF OFFICE BEFORE THEY DESTROY THE COUNTRY BEYOND REPAIR.

    May 1, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  4. Nicci Hartland

    Really this is news? We already know the Republicans are only there for themselves and not the people they are supposed to serve.

    May 1, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  5. alisonc700

    I'm an "outsider American" -white girl born in Attleboro, Massachusetts to English parents, lived in the US, UK and Ireland until age 8 or so, the rest of my upbringing in California and adulthood too until moving to Canada in 1996 to marry for love. So I see the gun thing from lots of different perspectives, but all, you know, white Anglo perspectives. And the most insane gun perspective is, actually, the US one – you guys, of whom I'm one but not like you, are completely insane on this issue! Guns are useful for hunting and war, and *very occasionally* for defense in the home; aside from those uses, guns mostly just kill people. In Canada there are sensible gun laws (though being undermined by the current Conservative government), and violent death by guns numbers in the 100s per year here, not the 10,000s or more as in the US. Yes, the Canadian population is 10% of the US, but the gun violence is less than 1% here than what is the annual destruction in the US. The difference being, sensible gun laws. And your Congress – my Congress too, I'm still an American citizen – just can't manage even the slightest regulation over the single most specifically chosen destructive blight on the land. Sheesh.

    May 1, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  6. 22

    Shame on the GOP.But then again what's new!They've always been about party loyalty or just plain antiObama instead of doing what the American people want.We can change this in2014,let's put people in congress who will fight for us.The GOP are on the way down,they are so blinded by their selfcenteredness they don't even see it!They will not see the inside of the Whitehouse for the next 12 years..........

    May 1, 2013 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  7. TheLocNar

    Republicans: Screw what over 90% of the country knew was a good idea all because if that black man Presudent.

    Spit.

    May 1, 2013 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  8. Tom

    The party of "no" strikes again.

    May 1, 2013 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  9. wildernessyes

    Shame on republicans. They do our nation much harm ongoing. This vote will be remembered.

    May 1, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  10. Nicci Hartland

    Adding to the post. The Democrats do the same thing as well when the Republicans are in power all Politicians work only for themselves and not for the people.

    May 1, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  11. ironman59

    Just confirms what we have known since day 1. The gop has only 1 goal and that is to embarress or defeat the President on every issue regardless of the benefit (or in this case) destruction of the country. They are proving that they do not want to govern and that they are the obstructionists we all know them to be at this point.

    May 1, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  12. sameeker

    The GOP has to be eliminated. They are destroying this country for their hatred of Obama.

    May 1, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  13. ted

    Toomey is right. The GOP and Dems that voted against the bill did so out of not wanting to betray the big money NRA. The senators, regardless of party, that voted against the bill are spineless cowards and are afraid of agreeing with Obama and therefore ostracized by NRA and gun owners of america and every other special interest group. HEY – what about the majority of Americans – read CONSTITUENTS – that were in favor of the bills. What about us? HEY?

    May 1, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  14. Mario

    Nice to see our government has our common good ahead of their personal agendas

    May 1, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  15. CliffHanger

    This makes me nauseous.

    May 1, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  16. R Harding

    the presidents fun control Bill didn't pass because a majority of Americans don't want their 2nd amendment violated. It's not a bill to prevent violence but to control people. CNN and the rest of the "lame stream" media need to get out of bed with Obama. Try something new like the TRUTH

    May 1, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  17. terrible

    this is exactly why I dislike how the government does their business. Childish to say the least.

    May 1, 2013 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  18. DougJ

    No surprise here. Republicans consistently put their own interests above that of the American people. They should all be held accountable and removed from office.

    May 1, 2013 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  19. another1

    Another example of GOP obstructionism. It is SHAMEFUL the game the GOP is playing, voting against the american people simply to act like bullies to the president. And yes, it is because he is black. Rich old white men are still ruining america as best they can.

    May 1, 2013 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  20. BeverlyNC

    When has the GOP ever wanted to cooperate with President Obama on ANYTHING? The Republicans have betrayed the People to be obstructionists, filibustered 387 bills, and made sure the whole nation suffered and kept us from recovery just to try to bring President Obama down.
    They failed but are still so bitter and full of hate, they still will not do their duty to all of us and get needed legislation passed for jobs, infrastructure, education, returning veterans, gun safety, immigration and the Republican-controlled House cannot even get a budget that makes economic sense or where the math adds up put together.
    Think how far into recovery we could be had the Republicans agreed to put the nation first and not corporations and arrogance.

    May 1, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  21. Justin

    And this kind of behavior will always exist in the Political System we have now.

    May 1, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  22. johninstlou

    "the only one that had a real shot of passing among the slew of gun proposals brought forward in the wake of the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. "

    Maybe if there hadn't been that "slew" of other proposals we were inundated with, folks might have been more receptive to some meaningful legislation. To me, this was just "one more" in that slew of bills that was rushed through in the aftermath of Newtown just so people could feel like they "did something".

    The other thing in this article is where it says " ...and people read the bill, it will gain support". To me, that just smacks of Nancy saying "We have to pass the bill to find out what's in it."

    May 1, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  23. bobbi

    no compromise with republicans til more folks are murdered...lots more,,,or til the democrat is out of office...the gop is so repugnant to me...I continue to pray we will become, once again THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA...for whatever reason the repubs hates Obama...I do not understand...and they are unwilling to allow him to be the best president and the most willing to do what he needs to do for our country...they agree with him...not publicly...is it because he is a democrat or because he is black?

    May 1, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  24. Freedom Storm

    "What makes America great is that you can be a gutless, useless, freeloading parasite who pi$$es on America and everything it stands for, and still get a check from the government every month.

    And that's true even if you're NOT the president."

    May 1, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  25. dh

    Tired if hearing the misleading term assault weapon applied to semi auto rifles. An assault weapon is a machine gun, and those are not legal to manufacture and sell to the public. Stop muddying the facts!

    May 1, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
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