In ‘substantive’ call, Pat Toomey tells Trump to ‘seize an opportunity’ on gun background checks
For nearly 40 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 Thursday 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 Thursday’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 this evening on gun-control legislation, and that he’d be speaking to the senators again tomorrow.
“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.