Neil McCabe

By conflating the two steps, Reid satisfied the 60-vote threshold, but he also set the amendments for quick and easier passage when the time is right. As majority leader, his motion to reconsider is a privileged motion, immune from amendments and filibusters. In addition, because the 60-vote threshold was created by the special circumstance of unanimous consent, the reconsideration of the amendments revert to the requirement of a simple majority.

Unspoken in all of this is the understanding that Democrats are waiting for the next spree shooter to go berserk. When he does, and the mood of the nation is panicked about guns, their program will be on the shelf waiting.

Manchin has not given up, but Toomey will not go back for another round.

Chris Wallace on the Fox News Sunday program asked Manchin if he was thought he could bring the background check bill back.

“I certainly do. The only thing that we've asked for is that people would just read the bill. It's a criminal and mental background check strictly at gun shows and online sales,” said the West Virginia senator.

“I truly believe if we have time to sell the bill, and people will read the bill, and I'm willing to go anywhere in this country, I'm going to debate anybody on this issue, read the bill and you tell me what you don't like,” he said.

When Wallace told Manchin he co-sponsor Toomey was out, the senator said it was not true.

“I don't think he's done. I really don't know. I was with Pat last night and Pat's totally committed to this bill and I believe that with all of my heart and we're going to work this bill,” he said.

Manchin might want to rely less on Toomey and more on Reid.


When the Pennsylvania senator stepped forward to support expanding background checks, the president’s program to restrict gun rights was stalled out, so it was a shock to Capitol Hill conservatives. In January, he took over the Republican Steering Committee, the leading conservative bloc in the Senate, replacing James W. DeMint, who is now leading the Heritage Foundation.

In the steering committee meetings that followed, Toomey’s colleagues told him flat out that in his position, he should not be partnering with the White House on gun control.


Although, he always voted the National Rifle Association’s line, Toomey, the former president of the Club for Growth, had never been vocal on gun rights. After the blowback from this foray, there is little doubt he will stray from his core competencies soon.

The Keystone State senator filed a bill Jan. 23 to amend the Constitution to create term limits for senators and congressmen. When a reporter asked him recently if he still supported term limits, he said his support of background checks was proof he did—at least for himself.

Neil McCabe

Neil W. McCabe is a journalist working in Washington. He was a senior reporter for the Human Events newspaper and for many years a reporter for The Pilot, Boston's Catholic paper. In 2009, he deployed to Iraq with the Army as a combat historian for 15 months.