Lead Senate Republican on gun bill distances himself from Obama
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The lead Republican on legislation that would expand background checks for gun sales slammed President Obama on Tuesday for taking action on the issue without Congress.

Sen. Pat Toomey, who faces a tough reelection race in blue-leaning Pennsylvania, said that while he still needs more information about the president's regulatory moves, "the most appropriate way for handling firearm issues is when Congress and the President work together.”
 
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"The President has abused these actions in the past and exceeded the boundaries of the law. This should not be allowed under our constitutional framework," he added in a statement. 
 
Obama announced new executive actions on Tuesday aimed at requiring background checks for all gun sales, including on the Internet and at gun shows, which are now exempt.
 
Toomey worked with Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinFive hurdles Democrats face to pass an infrastructure bill Nixed Interior nominee appointed to different department role  Against mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan MORE (D-W.Va.) on a 2013 proposal that would have expanded background checks for all firearm purchases but was unable to overcome a procedural hurdle requiring 60 votes. Most of Toomey's Republican colleagues, including GOP leadership, opposed the measure.
 
The two senators tried to attach the proposal to an ObamaCare repeal bill last month but once again fell short. Toomey, as well as Republican Sens. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission  Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (Ill.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Biden, lawmakers start down a road with infrastructure Sylvester Stallone reportedly joins Trump's Mar-a-Lago MORE (Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate GOP signal they won't filibuster debate of hate crimes bill Democrats work to pick up GOP support on anti-Asian hate crimes bill Against mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan MORE (Maine), voted for the background check amendment. 
 
Toomey on Tuesday stressed that he still backs requiring background checks for all commercial sales of guns, calling it a "commonsense way to protect public safety." 
 
His comments come as he is facing a potentially tough reelection bid in Pennsylvania. 
 
Former Rep. Joe Sestak, who is running for the Democratic Senate nomination, backed Obama's executive actions on Monday and took a jab at Toomey, saying that it took the 2012 shooting at a Connecticut elementary school for him "to back any gun safety measures." 
 
"I call upon Sen. Toomey to support these commonsense steps to prevent gun violence," he added. 
 
Toomey's criticism of Obama's actions puts him in line with many of his Republican colleagues, who quickly pounced on the president's announcement, suggesting it was another example of Obama's overreach. 
 
Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampBill Maher blasts removal of journalist at Teen Vogue Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Harrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment MORE (N.D.), the only Democrat to vote against the Manchin-Toomey amendment late last year, voiced skepticism about Obama's ability to carry out the actions.
 
“I welcome any discussion about how we can reduce gun violence. But I have some serious concerns about the president over-stepping his authority to implement some of these proposals," she said in a statement. "To truly understand how these executive actions would work, we need more details from the administration."

Heitkamp added that Obama's initiative does include some ideas that she's previously voted for, including increased support for mental health care and improving the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

- This story was updated at 3:48 p.m.