WaPo | Toomey-Manchin appears to be in big trouble

ToomeyManchin

WAPO: The decisions by Republican Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Richard Burr (N.C.) to oppose the deal cut by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) on background checks makes the path to 60 votes for the amendment very, very difficult.

Let’s start with the math. (And make sure to bookmark this post where we are updating the vote count on Toomey-Manchin as Senators make their intentions public.)

There are 52 “yes” votes and 39 “no” votes. There are eight Senators regarded as “undecided” and another — New Jersey’s Frank Lautenberg — who may or may not be able to make it to the vote due to health issues.

To get to 60 votes — the threshold needed to add the amendment to the overall bill — Manchin and Toomey need a) 7 of the 8 fence sitters AND Lautenberg or b) all 8 undecideds without Lautenberg.

Running the table or claiming seven of their eight votes seems very unlikely at the moment — for several reasons.

The biggest factor is the makeup of the undecided eight. Three are Republicans (Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Dean Heller of Nevada and John McCain of Arizona) while five are Democrats (Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas).

All three Republicans voted for cloture last week, making them at least open — in theory — to voting for the Toomey-Manchin amendment. But, of the 16 Republicans (including Ayotte, Heller and McCain) who voted for cloture, 10 have since announced they will vote against the amendment while three (Toomey, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins) have said they will vote for it. Given those numbers — plus the recent announcements by Flake and Burr — it’s far more likely that the undecided GOP trio come out against Toomey-Manchin than for it.

But, for the sake of argument let’s say that the three undecided Republicans decide to be for the bill. That would mean that either four (if Lautenberg votes) or all five Democrats (if he doesn’t) who haven’t publicly stated where they stand would need to be for the bill for it to pass.

That seems very unlikely when you remember that both Begich and Pryor voted against cloture last week — the only two Democrats to do so. Both men are up for re-election in states that not only went strongly against President Obama in the 2012 election but also are heavily rural and generally supportive of gun rights.

And, none of the other three Democrats are easy “yes” votes either. Baucus and Landrieu voted for cloture but are up in conservative-tilting states in 2014. Heitkamp was just elected in 2012 but is keenly aware of having to keep her distance from the national party if she wants to stand a chance at getting re-elected.

If Democrats lose both Pryor and Begich, the amendment fails. If they lose one of the two and any one of Baucus, Landrieu and Heitkamp, the amendment fails. And, remember, that math is based on the somewhat questionable assumption that the three remaining Republican undecideds decide to vote for the Toomey-Manchin amendment AND that Lautenberg returns to vote for it as well.

Toomey and Manchin — as well as the White House — are keenly aware of that math. And that’s why they are trying to adjust the bill to broaden its appeal. (The duo are “discussing the possibility of adding language that would exempt select far-flung communities in Alaska and North Dakota from some background check requirements,” report the Post’s Ed O’Keefe and Tom Hamburger.)

Any time you take a carefully negotiated compromise bill and try to tweak it to get a vote or two, you run the risk of losing someone (or someones) with the changes. These bipartisan bills are negotiated to within an inch of their legislative life before they ever see the light of day so the assumption that there is plenty of wiggle room to bring on additional votes may not be right.

And, think of the politics of this bill for those who are announced “no” votes. Political reality dictates that going from “no” to “yes” is a very tough proposition.

Yes, if the Toomey-Manchin amendment is changed in some fundamental way, any Senator who goes from “no” to “yes” can cite the changes when pressed on the reason for his/her change of vote. But, that assumes that his/her constituents are deeply engaged with the intricacies of the legislation (they aren’t) and that a complex argument can beat a simple one in the context of a political campaign (it can’t). (The complex argument explains why the switch made sense; the simple argument is that the switcher is a reed blowing in the political wind.)

Being labeled a flip-flopper is never a good thing. Being labeled a flip flopper on guns — particularly in a conservative-tilting state — is a very bad thing.

Taken all together, it’s hard to see the math for the Toomey-Manchin amendment adding up. (As we always note: Politics is a changeable business. So, what is true today may not be true tomorrow. It’s always possible that Toomey and Manchin will find a way to save the bill.)

If the background checks amendment fails, that would mean that the three pillars of the attempt to change gun laws — assault weapons ban, ban on high capacity magazines and background checks — would all fail to make the final bill. And that would be a stunning result given that we are less than four months removed from the tragedy in Newtown.

Will Obama’s Exploitation of Newtown Families Force GOP to Cave on Gun Control?

Sen. Mike Lee blasts closed-door backroom deals on gun bill; demands full text

Please call your Senator and others on this list and keep up the pressure!!

About Ask Marion

I am a babyboomer and empty nester who savors every moment of my past and believes that it is the responsibility of each of us in my generation and Americans in general to make sure that America is as good or even a better place for future generations as it was for us. So far... we haven't done very well!! Favorite Quotes: "The first 50 years are to build and acquire; the second 50 are to leave your legacy"; "Do something that scares you every day!"; "The journey in between what you once were and who you are becoming is where the dance of life really takes place". At age 62 I find myself fighting inoperable uterine Cancer and thanks to the man upstairs and the prayers from so many people including many of my readers from AskMarion and JustOneMorePet... I'm beating it. After losing our business because of the economy and factors related to the re-election of President Obama in 2012 followed by 16-mos of job hunting, my architect-trained husband is working as a trucker and has only been home approximately 5-days a month since I was diagnosed, which has made everything more difficult and often lonely... plus funds are tight. Our family medical deductible is 12K per year for two of us; thank you ObamaCare. But thanks to donations from so many of you, we are making ends meet as I go through treatment while taking care of my father-in-law who is suffering from late stage Alzheimer's and my mother-in-law who suffers from RA and onset dementia as well as hearing loss, for which there are no caretaker funds, as I continue the fight here online to inform and help restore our amazing country. And finally I need to thank a core group of family, friends, and readers... all at a distance, who check in with me regularly. Plus, I must thank my furkids who have not left my side through this fight. You can see them at JustOneMorePet.
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3 Responses to WaPo | Toomey-Manchin appears to be in big trouble

  1. Pingback: 59-41 – America Says NO. | The Bubba Effect

  2. Pingback: Bang… Senate Kills Anti-Gun Bill With Bi-Partisan Majority | askmarion

  3. Pingback: It’s a Wrap… Ask Marion – 04.21.13 | askmarion

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