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

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"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. No support

    This comes as no surprise. We have cowardly senators (which in this case involved a few democrats as well) who are only looking out for re-election and not for what moves our country forward. Hero's move into danger to save others, cowards back away and say that they wanted to help, but it was just too dangerous. We have no hero's in our congress, just cowards. I listened to the cowards try to explain away in town meetings, looking into the eyes of families in mourning and try to explain why it was to dangerous.. Like I said.. they are cowards.

    May 1, 2013 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  2. smithdp

    We need to stop considering congressional Republicans as the loyal opposition and start considering them as what they are, saboteurs. They gave us the recession, then they resist any effort to help Obama get the economy going again. They wouldn't pass his jobs bill that would put a million Americans back to work, they hide behind their new found concerns about the deficit after spending as John McCain said like "drunken sailors" during the Bush Administration. It's long past time to call it them what they are, children who can't stand that Obama is our President and who would rather drive the country into a ditch if it will help them get more power. We may not survive them if it doesn't change. And change will be going and getting them in their gerrymandered districts and dragging them out of congress.

    May 1, 2013 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  3. Dan Bowen

    While I'm no fan of the current administration, this type of gridlock from both parties is simply killing this great country. The win at all cost mentality is not the domain of one party or another, it is the failure of leadership from both parties as well as the President. We need term limits and politicians with the honor and dignity to do what's right for the country for a change...something we can't seem to find anywhere in the House, Senate or White House.

    May 1, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  4. Tom

    The GOP should be ashamed of itself. How dare they say they are patriotic. Most everything they do is wrong for this country.

    May 1, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  5. cheech

    don't they work for us the taxpayers?

    May 1, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  6. agsn

    WOW GOP has reached a point of moral corruption, that its members can even think this is a valid excuse.

    May 1, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  7. joe

    We need to vote everyone in congress out of office – both parties. Put new people in office to do the job that we are paying these do nothing congress and senate. Put people in office who do what is right for the country and not for the party. Vote these idiot's out-give them walking papers-take them off government payroll and health insurance amoung other benefits. This is the only way to change. get r done

    May 1, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  8. FedUp

    The GOP just does not get it !!!! Voters have fired a shot across their bow heard 'round the world (Obama). The next elections may be the nail in the GOP's control...

    May 1, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  9. nomad2003

    What else is new.... the Dems vote some things only have Obama gain political points, just as much as the Repubs.

    The fact is that back ground check would NOT have stopped Newtown killings.
    Any nut case could have dumped ricin in the air handler of the AC system.
    16000 lied on the form to purchase a gun, only 4 received jail time.

    The majority of those killed by guns are NOT mass murders. Until the judges impose jail time in addition to the jail time for other charges, guns will be used. Chicago is usually used as an example. Use a gun in a robbery.. . 7 years for the robbery, 5 years for the gun... but judges say concurrently... then the criminal get off for good behavior, and the person is out in 3 years...

    Use all the current laws ....

    May 1, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  10. DeanWYO

    What do you expect? The Republicans don't want to support a COMMUNIST!!!

    May 1, 2013 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  11. Klaark

    A worthless group of people to be sure but they're a product of the garbage that elected them.

    May 1, 2013 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  12. DocHollywood

    Toomey is exactly right. This has been the mark of the republicans in congress ever since President Obama assumed office. They would rather screw the country than see this president get any kind of "victory". Working for the American people has become a relic of the past. It is a shameful time in American politics.

    May 1, 2013 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  13. Rod

    Time to rid ourselves of the poison in Washington, D.C. (Paid for by the Committee to Remove Juveniles From the United States Congress)

    May 1, 2013 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  14. Bill Keller

    Perhaps the next time the Senator attends a Mass, he might reflect that his caucus prefers to work for those who desire the replace the crucifix above the altar with an AR-15 as a symbol for the innocent and use the tabernacle for ammunition storage. High capacity clips will replace the chalice. The altar servers will be armed to support the priest's control of the sanctuary against those without NRA absolution.

    May 1, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  15. penguin

    Repubs make me vomit while Dems just make me gag. Its time to bypass our "Representatives" and bring the important policies to a national public vote

    May 1, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  16. cwestions

    The people be dammed

    May 1, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  17. Silly Rabbit, Tricks are for kids

    Although I am a gun owner and I am glad that the assault weapon ban failed I agree that the failure wasn't because the senators did not agree with the bill but more so because it would have given the president a victory in their eyes and that's a no-no in Washington.

    May 1, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  18. Paul

    Most of the GOP should be in jail.

    May 1, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  19. Mike

    Dont worry Toomey just as we here in W.V. will finish off Manchin your state will take care of you also in the next election.

    May 1, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  20. callmecrazy

    This just confirms the pathetic poor excuse of a congress we have when they don't represent the will of the people. Every senator that voted different than their constituents wanted should resign or be booted out of office.

    May 1, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  21. Mizzy II

    The Republicans have no sense of shame for their very bad behavior.

    May 1, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  22. IvotedforObama

    Just more proof the GOP are full of racist. They do all they can to hurt him because they hate the black man.

    May 1, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  23. Anne

    Wow. Now that's an earth shattering revelation. I just want to ask every single one of old are you 10? Grow up and think for yourself and more importantly your constituents.

    May 1, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  24. Quixote

    If toomey had bot been running in 2010, amd if the club for growth...the extremist super pac group he founded had not spent millions disgracfully trashing Admiral Sestak is a grotesque swiftboat stule lie campaign, he would not be in the senate. Maybe his conscience is getting him thinking straight after all those years of being a radical right wing extremist.

    May 1, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  25. JR

    It's sad to say, but one or two more school shootings and it'll have to go through, America will finally be fed up with senseless killings of innocent children

    May 1, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
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