Looks like Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is throwing in the towel on his bipartisan deal on background checks. Manchin told NBC News this morning that they can’t come up with the votes by this afternoon to close debate:
The bipartisan effort to expand background checks will not have the votes to advance in the Senate today, according to one of the architects of the deal.
“We will not get the votes today,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told NBC News.
Last night, Roll Call reported that Manchin and Harry Reid needed eight more votes, almost an impossibility considering the circumstances:
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Democrats were two votes short of a filibuster-proof majority on an amendment that would end the gun show exemption and expand background checks to online sales.
Democratic aides tracking the bill said their magic number was a bit higher and said that members of both parties are still being lobbied. These same sources declined to give an exact whip count or list of names, given the delicate nature of the talks. An unofficial count by CQ Roll Call suggests that negotiators have 52 supporters, with eight senators still in play. …
Late Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, who was one of three Republicans left on the board, announced he would not support the deal.
“I cannot support legislation that infringes upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” he said of a compromise proposal authored by conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., and right-wing stalwart Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa.
“I believe that this legislation could lead to the creation of a national gun registry and puts additional burdens on law-abiding citizens,” Heller said.
In other words, gun control simply isn’t very popular. After spending the last four months leading the charge to ban “assault” weapons and demand universal background checks, Barack Obama is discovering why Democrats had wisely avoided gun control for more than a decade:
In the run-up to the roll call expected Wednesday, so many Republicans had declared their opposition to the background check measure that supporters – mostly Democrats – seemed headed to defeat unless they could turn votes around in the final hours. Supporters seemed likely to lose some moderate Democratic senators as well.
“It’s a struggle,” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, conceded Tuesday.
Perhaps helping explain Democrats’ problems, an AP-GfK poll this month showed that 49 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws. That was down from 58 percent who said so in January – a month after the December killings of 20 children and six aides at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school propelled gun violence into a national issue.
Just over half the public – 52 percent – expressed disapproval in the new survey of how President Barack Obama has handled gun laws. Weeks after the Newtown slayings, Obama made a call for near universal background checks the heart of his gun control plan.
This comes from the same poll that gives Obama a 49/43 approval rating on immigration, so it’s not merely the result of an outlier sample. Furthermore, while Democrats have been obsessing over gun-control proposals that would have had no impact on the incidents exploited by them in the push, the rest of America has been left wondering about their priorities. Gallup’s poll on Monday shows that only 4% think guns are America’s biggest problem, but 42% thing it’s the economy and jobs:
Few Americans mention guns or immigration as the most important problems facing the nation today, despite the current attention lawmakers in Washington are giving to these issues. The economy still dominates as the top concern, followed by jobs and dissatisfaction with the general way in which Congress and the government work. …
In terms of specific economic issues, Americans most frequently name the economy in general (24%), jobs/unemployment (18%), and the deficit (11%). The percentage mentioning each of these economic issues is in the same broad range as has been the case each month this year so far, although a higher 20% mentioned the deficit as the nation’s top problem in January.
At least nine million people got pushed out of the workforce over the last four-plus years of the Obama administration. Exactly when will Democrats “pivot” toward that in a manner even approaching their obsession with gun control over the last four months?
Update: Salena Zito asked Pat Toomey if he’s ready to throw in the towel, too. Not exactly:
Angry words from some conservative Republican constituents won’t keep U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey from working to secure votes needed to pass a gun-control amendment that would expand background checks on firearms purchases, he said Tuesday.
“This isn’t about politics; it’s about common sense,” Toomey told the Tribune-Review. “If I decide to run in 2016, then let the chips fall where they may.”
Again, in the realm of common sense, perhaps Toomey can explain how his bill would have prevented the Newtown shooting that Democrats have used to push universal background checks, among other initiatives.