All-Star Panel: Background check expansion fails in the Senate

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 17, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN, D – W.V.: If you want to remember those 20 babies, beautiful children, and the six brave teachers, you should vote for this bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't gun control. This is common sense.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, R - IA: Criminals do not submit to background checks now, they will not submit to expanded background.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The yeas are 54, the nays are 46. Under the previous order requiring 60 votes for the adoption of this amendment the amendment is not agreed to.

PRESIDNET BARACK OBAMA: A few minutes ago a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn't worth it. They blocked common sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, a big loss for President Obama, a big loss from those families from Newtown who traveled to Washington to lobby lawmakers. They lost on the big amendment that was agreed to by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican Pat Toomey to expand background checks. There was thought to be a deal. Republicans who voted yes, Toomey, Kirk from Illinois, Collins from Maine, and McCain from Arizona. Democrats who voted no, Heitkamp from North Dakota, Pryor from Arkansas, Begich from Alaska, Baucus from Montana, and Reid we mentioned before from Nevada. But Reid is only to bring it up again.

We're back with the panel. Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: As you just showed there, it's interesting that with the president's fulminations today, at the White House the opposition to the bill was technically more bipartisan than the support for the bill even though Harry Reid voted the way that he did just to preserve the option of bringing it up later.

But I was really struck by the president's comments today at the White House just before we went on air when he sort of let loose with a tirade on the people who opposed this bill. It made me think a couple of things. One, any hopes that there's going to be any further gun control legislation seemed to me to have gone by the wayside. Now, I don't think that was very likely anyway, but the president certainly isn't going to get anybody to sign on who he attacked the way that he attacked today.

And the second thing was, if you read the president's comments simply as an attack of the fellow red state Democrats who voted against Toomey/Manchin, it is a searing indictment of them and their politics, and their character, and their integrity. And it makes you wonder where is the president going to be -- will he be supporting them in the future?  Will the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee continue to support them because he basically said they sold out? 

BAIER: And he said vote them out. Change the people who voted against them.


HAYES: Yeah, exactly.

BAIER: Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: I just think this was a really sad day. I think it's like a tragedy. We are talking about what happened in Boston and terror and deaths of three people and you think about what happened in Newtown, you think about the daily carnage in the streets of America, and the U.S. Senate can't take action on simple background checks that overwhelmingly the American people in poll after poll say is a good idea it would be a good thing. Gun owners say yes, it is a good thing.  But again, the power of big money, the NRA and the gun manufactures has carried the day. So let's look at the record. You say --

BAIER: Gun owners overall don't say that. You mentioned the NRA.  They say this, "Expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in schools. The NRA will continue to work with Republicans and Democrats who are committed to protecting our children at schools, prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law, and fixing our broken mental health system. We are grateful for the hard work and leadership of those senators who choose to pursue meaningful solutions to our nation's most pressing problems."

WILLIAMS: Correct, the NRA can now put a smile on it. It's like Eddie Eagle, their kids program or something. What the problem is, a background check is not asking a lot -- it's not an infringement on anybody's right. And so now you come back to the politics and yes, the Democrats gave some people passes. But the expectation, especially from Pat Toomey, the Republican, was they were going to be these five Republican votes -- didn't get one.

BAIER: OK, quickly.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The question is, would it have had any effect on Newtown? If you're going to make all these emotional appeals and say you're betraying the families, you have to show how if this had been law it would have stopped Newtown. It would not have. It is irrelevant. I wouldn't have objected.  I might have gone the way of McCain or Toomey on this. But it's kind of an emotional blackmail as a way of saying you have to do it for the children. Not if there is no logic in this, and I think that's what is wrong with the demagoguery that we heard out of the president on this issue.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. Online show will continue this. Steve Hayes at the helm. But stay tuned for a case of mistaken identity.

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