In separate interviews Sunday, Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) rejected the suggestion that including the commander in chief would be useful to their efforts. Asked on CNN’s State of the Union whether Biden’s involvement would be helpful, Murphy said that the current talks should continue being led by lawmakers on Capitol Hill, rather than the White House.
“I think the Senate needs to do this ourselves,” the Connecticut Democrat said. “I have talked to the White House every single day since these negotiations began, but, right now, the Senate needs to handle these negotiations.”
Toomey, who will retire at the end of this term, was asked a similar question on CBS’s Face the Nation, to which he replied by arguing that the president’s partisan governing style would not serve as an asset in these bipartisan negotiations.
“I think the President might have been a president who would reach across the aisle try to bring people together, but he’s chosen not to take that approach,” Toomey began. “Since day one, he has sided with the far Left of his party and really not reached out to Republicans.”
The Pennsylvania Republican, a moderate with a penchant for bipartisanship, went on to take issue with the crux of Biden’s Thursday prime-time address, noting, “He gave a speech on this topic where he advocated policies that he knows for sure have no chance of passing the Senate, probably couldn’t even get 50 votes and hold the Democrats, much less get the 60 we would need. So once again, the president is not being very helpful.”
“I think at the end of the day, this is going to come down to whether we can reach a consensus in the United States Senate,” he added. “There are intensive discussions underway. It includes people who have not been engaged on this issue in the past. I can’t certainly can’t guarantee any outcome, but it feels to me like we are closer than we’ve been since I’ve been in the Senate.”
The White House did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment on the president’s involvement in the bipartisan talks.
Despite years of failed efforts to establish some type of federal firearms reform, recent mass shootings at an elementary school in Texas and a grocery store in New York sparked a renewed push to take action.
The group of lawmakers includes Murphy, Toomey, and Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Susan Collins (R-ME), among others. They have focused their proposal on red flag laws, which permit authorities to confiscate firearms from individuals who are believed to be a danger to themselves or others, as well as increased funding for school security and mental health assistance.
What the final piece of legislation will look like, or whether negotiations have a feasible path forward, will be answered in the coming week. For the time being, as Murphy told CNN, the senators are “trying to figure out what can get 60 to 70 votes in the Senate.”