Feb. 10, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Toomey Refused to Have Schumer at Gun Deal Presser

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Manchin, left, and Toomey speak at a news conference about their bipartisan agreement on background checks. Co-sponsors Schumer and Kirk were not present for the announcement.

The Wednesday news conference began on an awkward note, with Manchin acknowledging the “two Senators who aren’t here,” and then thanked his “friends” Schumer and Kirk. “Mark has been with me since the beginning and never left,” Manchin said. He then went on to describe the bill and his support of it, followed by Toomey, who did not mention Schumer.

Indeed, Toomey’s statement dealt less with the substance of the deal than it did with his reasoning that background checks do not constitute gun control.

“The common ground rests on a simple proposition, and that is that criminals and the dangerously mentally ill shouldn’t have guns,” Toomey said. “I don’t know anyone who disagrees with that premise.”

Meanwhile as Toomey and Manchin were speaking to reporters, Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz was criticizing their proposal on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, in another example of the political tightrope the GOP partners in the deal, particularly Toomey, must walk ahead of full Senate votes this week and next.

“Pat is a good man. I don’t agree with this particular proposal,” Cruz said, noting a disagreement over record-keeping of gun transactions. “In my view, maintaining a federal gun registry raises very serious constitutional concerns and is not consistent with the Second Amendment,” Cruz said.

Of course, the legislation as proposed by the bipartisan group does not establish a federal gun registry.

When asked by Ingraham if he was concerned about political consequences, he replied, “To be honest, I am not,” and then turned the issue back to Democrats. “I think a number of red-state Democrats who are up for re-election in 2014 are going to lose their seats” over this issue, he said.

Though he made the radio appearance, Cruz canceled his own scheduled morning news conference on guns.

Niels Lesniewski and John Gramlich contributed to this report.

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