Toomey to Trump: Seize op­por­tu­nity on back­ground checks

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - BY LAURA OL­SON

For nearly forty min­utes Wed­nes­day, U. S. Sen. Pat Toomey and two of his col­leagues from across the aisle hud­dled around a phone, field­ing what they de­scribed as thought­ful ques­tions from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump about ham­mer­ing out a bill to ex­pand gun back­ground checks.

Af­ter­ward, the Penn­syl­va­nia Repub­li­can once again told re­porters that the pres­i­dent was en­gaged and in­ter­ested in do­ing some­thing on the is­sue — but still has not en­dorsed Toomey’s pro­posal to ex­pand back­ground checks to all com­mer­cial gun pur­chases or any other ideas that have been put for­ward since a pair of mass shoot­ing in early Au­gust.

That could change in the next day or so. Toomey’s Demo­cratic col­leagues — U. S. Sens. Joe Manchin of West Vir­ginia and Chris Mur­phy of Con­necti­cut — said they ex­pect to hear from the White House as soon as to­day on whether Trump is will­ing to en­dorse any of the pro­pos­als un­der dis­cus­sion.

“I do think we’re get­ting to the witch­ing hour,” Mur­phy said. “I think we will know soon, within the next day or two, if the White House is will­ing to put a sub­stan­tive back­ground check bill on the ta­ble.”

Toomey was more cir­cum­spect about the tim­ing, say­ing to­day’s pro­posed dead­line for a de­ci­sion had not been “carved in stone.”

Trump told re­porters af­ter the phone call that he had more meet­ings sched­uled Wed­nes­day night on gun- con­trol leg­is­la­tion, and that he’d be speak­ing to the sen­a­tors again to­day.

“We’re go­ing to take a look at a lot of dif­fer­ent things and we’ll be re­port­ing back in a fairly short pe­riod of time,” Trump said, ac­cord­ing to a White House pool re­port. “There’s a lot of things un­der dis­cus­sion.”

Toomey’s mes­sage to the pres­i­dent was that it’s time to take ac­tion, and that the pro­posal he crafted in 2013 with Manchin — which would en­sure that those buy­ing guns com­mer­cially over the in­ter­net or at gun shows would be sub­ject to back­ground checks — would of­fer the best op­por­tu­nity for suc­cess.

“There are any num­ber of tweaks that would be pos­si­ble, there would be ad­just­ments,” Toomey said. “That could be worked out.”

Demo­cratic law­mak­ers have been urg­ing a vote on a gun con­trol pro­posal, point­ing specif­i­cally to the uni­ver­sal back­ground check bill that al­ready passed the House. That pro­posal is broader than Toomey’s pro­posal.

The top Repub­li­can in the Se­nate, Mitch McCon­nell, has said he won’t bring up any gun- con­trol pro­pos­als un­less the mea­sures have back­ing from the pres­i­dent.

SEN. PAT TOOMEY repub­li­can

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