Thursday, April 18, 2013

Manchin says NRA killed background-check expansion by making it part of lawmakers' ratings

Manchin, center, with Majority Leader Harry
Reid, D-Nevada, and other supporters of his
gun-control amendment (Getty Images)
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the Democratic half of the team that saw its background-check compromise shot down Wednesday, said Thursday that it would have gotten more than enough votes to pass if the National Rifle Association had not told senators it would use their vote in rating them. Many candidates have made much of marginally higher NRA ratings than their opponents.

"The two senators thought they had the NRA's tacit agreement not to oppose their amendment," NBC News reports on its First Read blog.

"If they hadn't scored it, we'd have gotten 70 votes," Manchin said at a Washington breakfast sponsored by The Wall Street Journal. "They made a big mistake." The lobby also gave a distorted description of how expanded background checks would work, Journal reporter Kris Maher writes.

Manchin, noting the immigration reform bill introduced this week, said it is difficult for conservative members to support more than one bipartisan compromise at a time, especially if it involves a change of position on an issue. "If you lose that credibility in any way, shape or form with your base, you're in trouble," he said, adding that a senator in such a position may ask, "How much energy do I have to sell two things?"

"Manchin said he planned to continue trying to persuade colleagues to change their minds and was willing to change his proposal to give lawmakers a basis for embracing it without being accused of flip-flopping," Maher reports.

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