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Toomey: Background check plan failed because of Republican politics

A bipartisan proposal to expand background checks for gun sales failed in part due to Republicans' desire to prevent President Barack Obama from winning a victory on a major policy initiative, the gun proposal's chief GOP proponent said Wednesday.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who crafted a proposal with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to extend background checks to firearms purchased at gun shows and online, said the measure failed to win the 60 votes it needed to win passage due to Republican politics.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., joins Morning Joe to discuss the defeat of the Toomey-Manchin amendment to expand gun background checks and the impact sequester cuts are having on flight delays.

"In the end it didn’t pass because we’re so politicized," Toomey told editors from Digital First Media in an interview published Wednesday by the Norristown Times Herald.

"There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it," Toomey added.

His comments suggest that his fellow Republicans' votes weren't governed so much by judgment of good policy so much as a desire to deprive Obama of a political and legislative victory.

It's a phenomenon to which the president himself alluded on Tuesday when speaking at a news conference about the parts of his agenda that have stalled in Congress.

"Their base thinks that compromise with me is somehow a betrayal. They’re worried about primaries," Obama said. "And I understand all that. And we're going to try to do everything we can to create a permission structure for them to be able to do what’s going to be best for the country. But it’s going to take some time."

The sentiment could infect other second term priorities of Obama's currently before Congress, like comprehensive immigration reform or a broader agreement with Republicans on taxes and entitlements.

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