In the wake of perhaps the worst political failure of Barack Obama’s term short of his 2010 midterm loss, the President vowed to continue to push forward on gun-control measures, especially background checks. One of the lead Senators on that effort appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to insist that the fight isn’t over. Joe Manchin insisted that he could convince enough of his colleagues to flip on the background checks, at least:
The public face of a failed amendment to expand background checks for gun purchases promised to continue pushing his legislation Thursday, saying he’ll work with skittish Democrats who voted against the bill.
“We’re gonna pass this,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told gun-control-backing MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on “Morning Joe.” “Don’t you give up. Don’t you give up.”
“These are good people,” Manchin said of other conservative Democrats who opposed the legislation. “I’ve got to sit down. There’s more work I’ve got to do. I’ve got to sit down and work with my colleagues. Heidi Heitkamp is my friend. I’m just so tickled to death she is there. I got to get Heidi comfortable so the people in North Dakota know how good she is and what we can do to make her feel comfortable that we represented the people. … I’m not going to allow a criminal or an Al Qaeda terrorist to be able to go to the gun show like he advertised to pick up guns but if there is some language that is uncomfortable, I’ve got to work harder to make them comfortable. … If the NRA didn’t score this, we would’ve had 15 more votes.”
That comes as news to Manchin’s partner on background checks. Pat Toomey told a local Allentown reporter that he had had enough, and plans on returning to fiscal issues:
The two senators behind a failed agreement to expand background checks on gun purchases appeared headed in different directions Thursday after the Republican half of the duo said he was ready to move on.
“We have a lot of other issues we have to deal with,” Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Pat Toomey told the Allentown Morning Call. “Chief among them is getting our fiscal house in order. I’ll be getting back to that.” …
Despite his desire to return to his signature economic issues, Toomey said he doesn’t regret working with Manchin on the bill.
“I did the best I could. I wish it had passed, but the Senate has spoken and these things happen,” he told the paper. “It’s always worth it to do the right thing … no regrets.”
The likelihood of this coming back up in the Senate is slim, approaching zero. First, Manchin would have to get Toomey back on board, and rewrite the bill to make it work. That means another round of legislative process just to get it to a vote — which would take a few weeks to a few months. That would put the bill in clear sight of the 2014 election cycle, which means that the red-state Democrats who passed on it the first time will be even less likely to climb on board.
Failure in this case matters greatly, too. The fact that the Senate didn’t pass it the first time means that incumbent Senators are not going to be inclined to expose themselves to political risk a second time, not without assurances that they can claim some sort of success as a balance to the damage they will take over it. And with the House clearly uninterested in taking up anything passed by the Senate on this topic — especially after the flop yesterday, and even more especially on the fact that Obama could only get 40 votes for his assault-weapons ban — most Senators will be looking for other issues to address.
And as Gallup reminded us this week, 96% of Americans think there are more pressing issues than guns.