Toomey: We are closer on gun control
Democrats have moved goal posts to the left, Pa. senator says, but may ‘settle for progress’
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey says a breakthrough “might be close” on expanding firearm background checks as he continues working on a draft proposal with other senators and the White House.
“I don’t want to overstate it. We do not have a deal. However, we are engaged,” Toomey said Thursday morning following a taping of WFMZ-TV’s “Business Matters” program. “We’re trying to get there. There’s more engagement now than certainly any time since 2013.”
Toomey’s optimism on background check legislation comes as Congress is wrapping up its August recess to head back to Capitol Hill.
Since the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio at the beginning of August, Toomey has been speaking regularly with President Donald Trump and several other senators, including Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut, on ways to revise the background check bill that he unsuccessfully pushed in
2013 with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat.
A new proposal “won’t be exactly that,” Toomey said, referring to the 2013 bill. He noted that Democrats are seeking more comprehensive changes than what his previous bill called for.
“The Democrats have moved left from where they were, but there are many Democrats that want an outcome. They want to see progress,” he said. “Those Democrats understand they’re not going to get everything they would like, so we’ll see if they can agree to settle for progress.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he’s open to a discussion in his chamber next month on gun bills. Toomey said Thursday he expects “some series of votes” is likely, “but exactly what we’re voting on? I think that’s still undefined.”
To get a proposal to pass the Republican-controlled Senate would require some heavy political lifting by the president, who has offered varying public remarks on his interest in strengthening background check rules.
Toomey said he thinks Trump’s remarks have been misunderstood, and that he hasn’t shifted in his openness to a gun bill heading to his desk.
“There’s nothing that the president has said that causes me to think that this is a lost cause,” he said.