A visibly angry President Barack Obama blasted the Senate’s rejection of a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks on gun sales, a vote that essentially ends any hope for major gun control legislation for the time being.
“This was a pretty shameful day for Washington, but this effort is not over,” Obama said in the Rose Garden.
The vote was 54-46, with only four Republicans crossing the aisle and voting with the Democrats in favor of the bipartisan proposal by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Sixty votes were needed.
Missouriu’s Democratic Senator Claire Mccaskill voted for the bill, Republican Roy Blunt voted against it.
both Kansas Senators, Pat Roberts and jerry moran voted against the measure.
Gun-control supporters in the Senate gallery and the hallway surrounding the chamber — some wearing ribbons and buttons with pictures of loved ones killed in shootings — wept when the results were announced. From their euphoria last week — when Toomey and 15 other Republicans voted with Democrats to allow the gun debate to begin, to Wednesday’s reality that the bill was defeated – proved too much for them.
One woman, Patricia Maisch — who jumped on gunman Jared Lee Loughner when he shot former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and killed six other people in Tucson in Jan. 2011 – yelled “Shame on you!” from the gallery.
Roxanna Green, whose 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green , was killed in Tuscon, seemed stunned.
“I’m very disappointed. It should just be common sense. We’ll all be back, we’re going to keep fighting,” Green said.
Ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, who pushed for the bill, vowed to continue fighting. “Gabby has always said this would be a long, hard haul. Our work does not end today.”
“We will use every means possible to make sure the constituents of these senators know that their elected representatives ignored them, and put Washington, DC special interest,” they said in a statement.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as other top White House officials, had lobbied senators personally in the days leading up to the vote, but their efforts failed.
For instance, White House Chief Denis McDonough visited Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) on Tuesday to press her to support the Manchin-Toomey bill, according to Democratic sources. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew called Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), while Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — a Republican — made a pitch to Nebraska GOP Sen. Mike Johanns.
But several red state Democrats up for reelection in 2014, including Sen. Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska) and Mark Pryor (Ark.), voted against it, costing Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) key support.
Despite the visit by McDonough, Heitkamp — just elected in November — voted no.
Reid switched his vote to “no” at the last minute, allowing him under Senate rules to bring up the measure again.
A wheelchair-bound Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), missing from Capitol Hill for weeks with serious health problems, made an appearance to vote for Manchin-Toomey. His colleagues clapped when he appeared on the floor.