Sen. Pat Toomey says his Republican colleagues refused to vote for a bipartisan Senate bill expanding background checks for gun sales because they didn't want to "be seen helping the president."
The Pennsylvania Republican, who co-sponsored the amendment with West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, admitted Tuesday the bill failed because Congress has become too politicized, according to The Huffington Post.
Only three Republicans voted for the background checks amendment, even though there was overwhelming national support for the measure.
"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 told a gathering of Digital First Media editors at the Times Herald newspaper in Norristown, Pa.
Just last week, Toomey blamed President Barack Obama, saying he thought the administration was at fault for the bill's failure.
"I think the president ran his re-election campaign in a divisive way," he said. "He divided Americans. He was using resentment of some Americans toward others to generate support for himself."
Manchin, though, blamed the amendment's failure on the National Rifle Association's decision to add the vote to its scorecard, which ranks lawmakers and makes election recommendations based on how they stand on gun control issues. Without the NRA ranking, Manchin told the Morning Call, at least 70 senators would have voted for the amendment, which failed earlier this month by a margin of 54 to 46. It needed at least 60 votes to pass under the Senate's supermajority rules.
In addition, fears the amendment would lead to a federal gun registry also led senators to vote against it, even though the measure outlawed the creation of a registry as a felony offense, the Huffington Post noted.
In his comments to the editors in Pennsylvania Tuesday, Toomey was pessimistic about gun legislation moving forward soon.
"The bill is available right now and [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid could bring it up for a vote at any time, but we need five people to change their minds," he said.
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