Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey refused to share the stage with liberal Democratic New York Sen. Charles Schumer at a high-profile press conference announcing a bipartisan deal on gun background checks.
Four senators had been working on the legislation, trying to resolve the contentious issue as the Senate plans to begin considering several gun measures.
But at the press conference Wednesday to announce the deal, only Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia showed up to present the details of the bill, which would expand background checks to gun shows and online sales.
Toomey told Manchin before the press conference that he would not appear if Schumer shared the stage, Roll Call reported
Schumer agreed not to appear, and the fourth senator who worked on the deal — Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois — stayed off the stage as well, to give cover for the snub, according to Roll Call.
Toomey, former president of the conservative Club for Growth, is a key to bringing other Republican senators on board who would otherwise be suspicious of a bill crafted by Schumer, who has been an outspoken gun-control advocate.
Even before the press conference took place, the group Heritage Action labeled the deal “Toomey-Schumer-Manchin” in an email blast, and took Toomey to task for deal-making.
“Legislation drafted behind closed doors and rushed to the Senate floor has no place in our political system. We expect this type of deal-making from Joe Manchin and also from Chuck Schumer, who supports the ‘universal registration’ of firearms. However, we expect more from Pat Toomey,” Heritage Action said.
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