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. Jez

    This is pathetic. Too many republican law makers just spat in the faces of the families whose children were massacared by assault type rifles. They represent themselves and their pocket books, not the American people. Absolutely disgusting.

    May 1, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  2. daingy

    can't say i feel sorry for the worst president in our history....his gimmick was nothing short of a gun grab..too bad toomey can't see that....

    May 1, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  3. Dude

    Party first. American people second.

    No wait, lobbyists second, then the American people.

    The point is, the American people are on the list somewhere.

    May 1, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  4. Roberto

    Isn't that the way it's supposed to work? You have a president of one party and a congress that is pushed by another party. Nothing is going to happen. Why?

    The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.
    The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles.
    Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch.
    And I don't like anybody very much.

    i.e., Republicans hate the Democrats and Democrats hate the Republicans.
    And I don't like anybody very much.
    Especially the Democrats and Republicans. Especially Congress. Especially the Tea Party. Especially the Libertarians. Especially the President. Especially ANY politician. Why?
    Because they make me pay taxes to support a government that is totally and completely dysfunctional and doesn't serve a blessed individual out there in the U.S. except themselves.
    Yo! TAXI! Can you get me out of this morass? Say...some island that is not inhabited by pea-brains and people? Uhhh...sorry. That's redundant.

    May 1, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  5. d

    no doubt...BUT the dems woulda done the same in a heartbeat

    May 1, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  6. mark

    Toomey is my Senator. I have ZERO respect for him. He is working for the banks and big corporations ONLY, and I believe this whole thing was just to help him survive the next election when many republicans appear threatened. He is no better than they are, but he is not stupid and he is a professional liar.

    He did one good thing in his career – that does not make him a good senator.

    May 1, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  7. Tychi

    Only one word for this is: Duh!

    May 1, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  8. M Gonzales

    Nonsense, The Democrats knew this would never get past congress in the first place but it would be something great to hang around the GOP's neck in 2014 elections. However since this didnt even get past the Democrat Senate they cant blame the GOP for a the gun legislation failer but dont let this stop CNN and company from trying.

    May 1, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  9. Abeslom

    Wow, it is so sad that even a GOP senator is now admitting that his party would vote against anything if it means that the president doesn't succeeded!!!

    May 1, 2013 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  10. judith

    Of course, all the GOP is obstruct. Things will change, however, because the Republican brand is so unpopular and the Tea Party governors have miserable approval ratings, including the Pennsylvania one. It will take time, but eventually the NRA will know longer be able to own Congress.

    May 1, 2013 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  11. Fubarack

    While I agree that anything Obama wants is already a bad idea, the bigger problem is that this bill did not address the issues, or even the address the people involved.

    May 1, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  12. Steve

    The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem...

    May 1, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  13. T. Lee

    Absolutely P.A.T.H.E.T.I.C.!!!!!

    This echoes the night of Obama's first inauguration when Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, twenty some-odd influential Republicans plus several non-policy makers like Newt Gingrich who gather together behind closed doors to plot out how they were going to delay – obstruct – try to defeat every single thing Obama tried to get accomplished in behalf of the country.


    May 1, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  14. texasnotea

    And there you have it. The Republican party is the problem after all. They care more about one upping the President than doing the right thing for America. What a sham!

    May 1, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  15. Steve S

    So who does the GOP represent?
    The American people, or the NRA?

    May 1, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  16. Bob

    Again, we see the Republicans can't play. Even when it is for the good of all. I am disappointed them. I hope as time goes by, they get what the deserve for not doing what is right. I am an Independent. I belong to neither party. This whole thing makes me puke.

    May 1, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  17. warm gun

    Way to go Toomey.

    A turncoat twice over.

    Toomey-Manchin, formed in secret and unveiled at the last minute, had lots wrong with it.

    May 1, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  18. mountainlady

    While I thank Senator Toomey for his candor....this is hardly news. The GOP has made it perfectly clear that they are so determined to oppose anything President Obama supports that they are willing ignore their constituents, let the country fall into ruin and strong arm any Republican in Congress who has the courage to stand against them. They lost the big election so now they're taking their ball and going home. It's not only childish, it's completely unprofessional. They should all be impeached. I can't wait until 2014.

    May 1, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  19. ophu

    It's indicative of where we are politically when the GOP need permission to vote in their own best interest.

    May 1, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  20. Vern

    If the Senator is right, it proves again that the Republican Party should not be giving the reins of power in D.C. If they're that selfish, then the don't deserve to run the nation in any way, shape or form.

    May 1, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  21. Bernard

    The republican have good lobbylist to change and pass whatever they want they dont need democrat or obama support . They pass gunlaw if they want

    May 1, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  22. jodyhall77

    Then why didn't the senate Democrats vote for it? Did someone forget to tell Mr. Toomey that the Democrats control the senate? Take your ass whippin and go home senator.

    May 1, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  23. Canukman

    Sen. Toomey really just stated what is obvious to most rational people. Still, in your political environment, that required courage and integrity to do so and I admire him for that.

    I am thankful that Canada does not have such a destructive political party here as the GOP. Even our Progressive Conservative Party, the most right-wing party Canada has seen, is considerably more to the middle than the Republican Party. Parties and people at either extreme ends of the political spectrum are never helpful – or even stable .

    May 1, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  24. Jeb

    The GOP is still the party of NO.

    They never think in terms of what's good for the country.

    May 1, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  25. amazed2

    Term limits is all that is left that can save our country from this nonsense we have become. Incredible. Gutter rat morality.

    May 1, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
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