By Justin Sink - 04/17/13 10:10 PM EDT
President Obama angrily labeled Wednesday's defeat of a bipartisan gun control motion a "pretty shameful day for Washington" in remarks at the White House.
The president, flanked by family members of Sandy Hook victims and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (R-Ariz.), said he saw the rejection of a bipartisan amendment that would have expanded background checks on firearm sales "as just round one."
The president went on to blast the "minority in the United States Senate" who "decided it wasn't worth it" to vote for legislation that would have protected children. He also pointed the finger at the nation's gun lobby, accusing it of having "willfully lied" about the contents of the bill, and pinned blame on Republicans who had voted against the measure.
"There were no coherent arguments on why we couldn't do this," Obama said. "It came down to politics."
Obama who was introduced by Mark Barden, the father of a Sandy Hook elementary student who died in December's mass shooting, praised relatives of shooting victims for lobbying for the legislaton.
He praisd "families that know unspeakable grief [but] summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders" and blasted back at Republican critics, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who had accused the White House of using the victims as political props.
"Are they serious? Do we really think that families of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don't get to weigh in on this issue?" Obama said.
Following the remarks, Obama embraced the victims' families who joined him behind the podium. Vice President Biden, who stood through the president's remarks with his arms crossed and a visible grimace, joined the president in thanking them for their efforts.
The amendment, sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), failed 54-46 in Wednesday's vote. That left supporters five votes short of the 60 they needed to adopt the amendment; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) voted against the bill in a procedural move to preserve his ability to bring it up again.
The Manchin-Toomey plan would have expanded background checks to include firearm sales made over the internet and at gun shows.
The failure dealt a serious blow to the president's hopes at getting at least one of the major legislative proposals suggested in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn. shooting. The Senate is expected to similarly reject amendments that would ban so-called assault weapons and limits on magazine capacities.
Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor (Ark.), Max Baucus (Mont.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Mark Begich (Alaska) defected, while the amendment earned support from Republican Sens. Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.).