With Vice President Joe Biden presiding in the Senate, the Toomey-Manchin compromise on background checks failed as the first amendment of gun control legislation.
Sixty votes were needed for passage on the amendment, which fell 54-46. After the vote, a woman in the gallery yelled “Shame on you!”
Four Democrats voted “no”: Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) voted no at the end of the voting as a procedural move that allows him to bring the bill back later.
Four Republicans voted “yes”: Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).
“If you committed to protecting Second Amendment rights you should vote for this bill,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) pleaded with his colleagues before the vote.
“If you want to remember those 20 babies… please consider you should vote for this bill.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has offered a substitute amendment, stood up in “strong” opposition to the amendment, saying it would snowball into federal gun registration.
“Expanded background checks would not have prevented Newtown,” Grassley said. “Criminals do not submit to background checks now, they will not submit to expanded background checks.”
“This amendment would start us down that road of registration,” he added.
The Grassley amendment failed 52-48, even with the assist of several Democrats: Begich, Baucus, Heitkamp, Pryor, Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
Seven more amendments to the gun bill are on the Senate agenda this afternoon.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), absent from the upper chamber for weeks, appeared in a wheelchair today to cast votes. He voted “yes” on Manchin-Toomey as his Democratic colleagues applauded.
“I did what I thought was the right thing for our country. I sought out a compromise position that I thought could move the ball forward on an important matter of public safety. My only regret is that our amendment did not pass,” Toomey said in a statement after the vote.
“It’s not the outcome I hoped for, but the Senate has spoken on the subject, and it’s time to move on,” the Pennsylvania Republican added. “We have a lot of other very important issues to deal with such as getting the economy back on track, dealing with the debt ceiling and creating more jobs for Pennsylvanians.”
“Although I am disappointed in the outcome of today’s vote for a commonsense measure to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill while protecting our Second Amendment rights, this is not the end of the debate,” Manchin said. “I thank Senator Pat Toomey, along with Senators Mark Kirk and Chuck Schumer, for their support on working toward a balanced approach to fix our culture of mass violence. Moving forward, I am hopeful that my colleagues and I can work together as we remember all the families who have suffered from senseless acts of violence across America. If we muster just one ounce of the courage these families have shown, then we, as a legislative body, can truly make a difference.”