Sen. Toomey: I'm the guy who stood up to NRA

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is defending himself after President Trump accused him of being "afraid" of the NRA.

Posted: Mar 4, 2018 10:20 AM
Updated: Mar 4, 2018 10:20 AM

It turns out nothing -- not even President Donald Trump -- can change Congress on guns.

But after a week of talk, after students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School personally lobbied lawmakers, and the President continued his public push to overhaul the country's gun laws, members of Congress departed Washington on Thursday afternoon without having voted on a single gun bill and without any plans in the near future to take action on one.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Thursday afternoon that the plan for the week ahead was to vote on a bill to change the Dodd-Frank banking law, not to tackle even modest changes to gun laws.

Asked if the Senate will take up gun legislation next week, McConnell said, "No, we're going to the Crapo bill next week," he said referencing the banking bill from Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo.

On changes to gun laws he added, "we'd love to do that at some point. I'm hoping there is a way forward."

The lack of momentum on gun control came as Capitol Hill was still confounded Thursday following a wide-ranging, televised meeting at the White House on guns where Trump challenged long-held conservative positions on guns and called out the National Rifle Association by name.

Trump asked for an increase in the age at which individuals could buy rifles, embraced a background check bill that expanded checks for gun show and internet sales and told House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana that a concealed carry bill that had passed out of the House -- and was a key leverage point for the GOP -- wouldn't pass in the Senate.

But none of it seemed to translate into the Republican Party following Trump's lead.

For Republicans, the meeting undercut a central talking point they'd held all week. There was an answer in the wake of the shooting in Parkland, Florida: It was a combination of school safety measures and a modest bill that incentivized state and federal agencies to enter more records into the country's background check database called "Fix NICs."

On Wednesday, Trump insisted on more, cutting against the grain of GOP orthodoxy on the Second Amendment and playing right into Democrats' talking points that Fix NICs wasn't enough on gun control.

Behind the scenes, aides were fuming, arguing Trump had taken the party too far. One Republican noted that Trump's refusal to slam the door on the assault-rifle-style weapons ban when Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, brought it up was "malpractice from the standpoint of our guys."

On the record, members were more judicious.

"I'm not going to criticize the President," said Sen. Jim Risch, a Republican from Idaho who wasn't in the White House meeting. "The people who were there characterized it as a brainstorming session. Those are usually done best privately."

Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas and the chamber's second-ranking GOP member, said if "Fix NICs" made it to the floor, it would get "80 votes" even if Trump has insists he wants more.

There are still some discussions happening behind the scenes, but any gun debate would need the blessing of leadership and the time for action is running short. Next week, the Senate will debate a banking bill and then quickly approaching is a deadline on a funding bill.

Sens. Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, have been trying to rework and build more consensus for their more comprehensive background check bill they pushed for five years ago that would have expanded the checks to gun shows and internet sales. But few Republicans were willing to go on the record supporting it yet.

"I am convinced there is a bipartisan product that could come out of this process and it would be on keeping dangerous people from getting guns," said Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio. "I am hopeful we can get through this thing with something that actually helps."

Asked if he backed Manchin-Toomey, however, Portman said he'd need to see a final product.

Democrats expressed disappointment that more wasn't done at the end of a week where so much national momentum was behind them.

"This is a moment when America wants us to act," said New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker. "Fundamental to the purpose of government is the common defense and we're just not doing it."

Democrats had been cautiously optimistic Wednesday after the White House meeting that Trump's discussions would lead to some real progress, but it wasn't clear Trump had the power to shift his party on an issue as core to them as guns.

"I want to be encouraged, but I've seen the movie before," said Washington Sen. Patty Murray, a member of Democratic leadership, "I want to see him go out there and get Republican votes for what he proposed yesterday. When he does that, that's when I'll be impressed."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 660071

Reported Deaths: 12531
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion904161633
Lake48298874
Allen35720633
Hamilton31970396
St. Joseph29796510
Elkhart25331412
Vanderburgh21192377
Tippecanoe19927199
Johnson16312356
Porter15917269
Hendricks15785300
Clark11913180
Madison11717315
Vigo11562229
Monroe10300159
Delaware9824179
LaPorte9739196
Howard9038195
Kosciusko8539108
Bartholomew7424147
Hancock7399130
Warrick7399150
Floyd7180167
Wayne6622191
Grant6413157
Boone606888
Morgan6066124
Dubois5890111
Dearborn544466
Cass542899
Marshall5414104
Henry541392
Noble508476
Jackson464165
Shelby459890
Lawrence4174111
Gibson400981
Harrison397863
Clinton394453
Montgomery385083
DeKalb384378
Knox356285
Miami356163
Whitley348435
Huntington341876
Steuben337455
Wabash330576
Putnam328259
Ripley326461
Adams322149
Jasper314843
White297152
Jefferson293773
Daviess285096
Fayette271156
Decatur270188
Greene260780
Posey260431
Wells257174
Scott250050
LaGrange240770
Clay240344
Randolph225376
Spencer216930
Jennings214344
Washington209927
Sullivan202939
Fountain201042
Starke187250
Owen181953
Fulton177937
Jay177528
Carroll176218
Perry173335
Orange170950
Rush164322
Vermillion160141
Franklin159135
Tipton145941
Parke138615
Pike127432
Blackford120527
Pulaski106544
Newton96531
Brown94839
Benton91713
Crawford90313
Martin80114
Warren75312
Switzerland7527
Union66910
Ohio52911
Unassigned0433

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 964380

Reported Deaths: 17183
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1114961198
Cuyahoga950781723
Hamilton72988958
Montgomery47128883
Summit39949954
Butler35292468
Lucas35069761
Stark29218837
Warren22294272
Lorain21904389
Mahoning19348540
Lake18307304
Clermont18271210
Delaware16347135
Licking14893199
Fairfield14449157
Trumbull14239460
Greene13520212
Medina13290219
Clark12194335
Wood11460193
Portage10928155
Allen10742233
Richland10226205
Miami9984187
Muskingum8125129
Columbiana8086182
Tuscarawas8003235
Pickaway800199
Marion7963137
Wayne7837218
Erie6826184
Ross6104136
Geauga6030129
Hancock5965112
Ashtabula5917144
Scioto5906104
Lawrence521874
Union508852
Darke5021123
Belmont488388
Huron4761117
Jefferson4756107
Sandusky474494
Seneca4640103
Athens460931
Washington458787
Mercer4577101
Auglaize454698
Shelby440368
Knox400486
Putnam3976101
Madison390947
Fulton377364
Ashland377195
Defiance3699102
Brown368342
Crawford356096
Logan352459
Preble351771
Clinton338564
Highland326255
Ottawa320867
Williams301077
Jackson288556
Guernsey285034
Champaign284445
Fayette267644
Perry266743
Morrow258624
Henry244865
Hardin243256
Holmes2428104
Coshocton232847
Van Wert228549
Gallia220746
Adams215132
Pike213627
Wyandot208752
Hocking193248
Carroll179828
Paulding159223
Meigs134636
Noble128442
Monroe115636
Morgan100434
Harrison100132
Vinton76615
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