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. neken7

    Hasn't that been the issue with Government since 2008? Obama is far from perfect, but some of his policies are good ideas or just flat out common sense, and he's even proposed things Republicans were mulling around before he became President. They shoot down every idea because they don't want to be seen helping 'the other side', and stall the Government by not voting on bills or filibustering them, then they blame him for not being able to get anything done.

    It's a power struggle. Just a game, and we're all pawns.

    May 1, 2013 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  2. V.P. Naive

    Let's be clear on what we should not help a subversive President do.

    May 1, 2013 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  3. vidal808

    The GOP???? They would not, would they? I will never vote for that dum party again, period!

    May 1, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  4. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    The Republicans hate this black man. Can I make it any more simple for you? They hate him so much they will abandon their sworn duty and do nothing to help their constituents. Have you confused Republican voters not learned that this is no longer the party of Eisenhower and Reagan? This is a party of insane, money grubbing fanatics! Wake Up Sheeple!

    May 1, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  5. Myron Pitts

    This is disappointing to hear. I'd even rather hear they were just kowtowing to the NRA than hear they voted down a law supported by so many purely out of Obama hatred.

    May 1, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  6. Concerned

    When representatives don't do what is right for the people so as to be seen as part of some mold, keeping aside their conscience; tending to some master other than the people's well-being, representative democracy is defeated.

    May 1, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  7. Damien

    Toomey's vote and his honesty are onderful examples of political courage.

    May 1, 2013 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  8. rich

    The family values guys again. Anything not to make President Obama have anything good on his side of the ledger. Now lets hear again who is not racist and who wants what is best for the country. If Votes checks (and supression) is ok, why are not gun checks. Yep it might catch a few who should not have guns anyway. Great Americans those guys. REMEMBER IN 2014

    May 1, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  9. bucdale

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he is ignoring the 4 Democratic Senators (Harry Reid included) who voted against this bill. That 4 vote swing passes the bill and moves it into onto the House (Which was Obama's plan all along). Obama and the Democrats knew that this was never going to become law... He just thought he would be able to pin it on the Hose Republicans for the defeat..

    May 1, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  10. Ohio gal

    And this is surprising??

    May 1, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  11. Hikertom

    It is obvious that the only way to end this gridlock is to remove Republicans from office. Lots of them.

    May 1, 2013 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  12. Mike

    Helping Obama whatever. They are all a big fat joke.

    May 1, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  13. llLowkohll

    So basically from now on, Obama needs to just say the opposite of what he really wants done. Good to know.

    May 1, 2013 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  14. Racemunki

    And this comes as a surprise, how? Republicans have been doing this kind of nonsense since the beginning. Even some Democrats. The problem is not the fact that they don't want to work with the President. It is "US". Because we the electing public allow this kind of nonsense to continue. Issues that affect the United States and to a great degree, the rest of the world, we allow to be used as a political Russian Roulette game. Pandering for the next election, etc. Congress and the Senate are not working for the American Public, as they were chosen to do. If you don't think so, look at the FAA Furlough. They did that in an afternoon. Then went on vacation. Our government at work!

    May 1, 2013 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  15. John

    Not even 90% of the American population can shift the Party of No

    May 1, 2013 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  16. neken7

    Wasn't that been the issue with Government since 2008? Obama is far from perfect, but some of his policies are good ideas or just flat out common sense, and he's even proposed things Republicans were mulling around before he became President. They shoot down every idea because they don't want to be seen helping 'the other side', and stall the Government by not voting on bills or filibustering them, then they blame him for not being able to get anything done.

    It's a power struggle. Just a game, and we're all pawns.

    May 1, 2013 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  17. Bernardo

    Another nail in the Republican Party's coffin. And I'm a Republican. RIP.

    May 1, 2013 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  18. Fire the GOP

    What do you expect from a party that tried to tank the economy just to try to make President Obama a one-term President? Fire. The. GOP.

    May 1, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  19. U.S. Citizen

    Touting this as a potential victory for any Government Official is very wrong.
    This failed because the intent was for it to be used as a political tool; and it still is.

    May 1, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  20. jon

    Well, I, for one, cannot wait for 2014 to vote OUT whoever I can after this debacle.

    May 1, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  21. Blue

    This is so outrageous and blatantly racist!! The GOP will do everything in their power to topple this administration before Obama's second term is finished. They want him to fail so they can prove that 'white' is superior, GOP white that is! Obama is brilliant and they know it.....all the more reason to bring him down. The GOP were not ready for a black democratic president and have obstructed everything he has tried to do at the expense of our country and it's people! Isn't it time to stand up to these thugs....enough is enough!!!

    May 1, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  22. spudnik56

    Well...I'm shocked...

    May 1, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  23. Jill

    The immaturity in this is mind boggling.

    May 1, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  24. svann

    Yes, Mr. Toomey. Everyone in the country knows the truth of this.

    May 1, 2013 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  25. Mollyjb

    This is why Republicans need to be defeated at the polls and a Democratic majority put in place in the Senate and House. That way things will get done and will be to the benefit of the majority of Americans. Right now the Republicans only care about the rich, big corporations and defeating Obama. It is disgusting to think that the Republican senators ignore what their constituents want – universal background checks. Well some of them are now paying a political price as their poll numbers are going down.

    May 1, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
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