Pivotal GOP senator isn’t giving up on guns deal with Biden


Republicans don’t love President Joe Biden’s executive actions on guns. But some still want to work with him on gun safety legislation.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who cut a 2013 deal on background checks for gun buyers that failed in the Senate, said that "lasting progress" is made through legislation — despite Biden’s efforts unveiled Thursday to crack down on "ghost guns" and pistol conversion kits.

Toomey, who is retiring in 2022, is eager to reach agreement on a targeted guns measure that can outlast Biden’s presidency and said he appreciates "President Biden’s expressed willingness to work with both Republicans and Democrats to achieve this goal."

"If done in a manner that respects the rights of law-abiding citizens, I believe there is an opportunity to strengthen our background check system so that we are better able to keep guns away from those who have no legal right to them," Toomey said in a statement after Biden’s announcement.

However, any attempt to craft bipartisan guns legislation faces steep odds. Toomey is one of only two Republicans left in the Senate who supported that 2013 background checks bill, and the background checks legislation passed recently by the House lacks even the support of all 50 Democratic senators.

What’s more, the filibuster remains a major hurdle, requiring a minimum of 10 Republicans to cooperate with Senate Democrats to make progress on background checks.

Biden said his actions are just a "first step" in his efforts to combat gun violence, indicating he’s still eager to see Congress legislate.

"There’s much more Congress can do," Biden said, calling on the Senate to pass House Democrats’ background checks bill. Legislators have "offered plenty of thoughts and prayers, members of Congress, but they’ve passed not a single federal law to reduce gun violence. Enough prayers. It’s time for some action."

And for now at least, Toomey and his Democratic colleagues aren’t ready to give up.

"I look forward to working with [ATF nominee] David [Chipman] and alongside the Biden Administration to further these efforts with legislation. It’s past time for the Congress to act on gun safety reform, and I’ll be fighting tooth and nail to get it done," said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

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