Toomey, Manchin back together on a background checks bill

(Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
Sens. Joe Manchin, left, and Pat Toomey are teaming up again. (Allison Shelley/Getty Images)

This week marks one year since Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) formed their unlikely alliance to strengthen background check laws on gun sales.

Manchin was seeking a Republican to team up with after the Sandy Hook school shooting. So he approached border state pal Toomey, and the two drafted a modest proposal that still enraged the National Rifle Association and failed to get enough votes in the Senate, but did earn them a spoof on “Saturday Night Live” with actors Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader as their stand-ins.

A year later, it was Toomey’s turn to ask for Manchin’s help on background checks — not for guns, but for school employees. The Republican senator has been pushing a bill that would require any school that receives federal funds to perform background checks on all existing and new employees, including contractors. There is currently no national standard.

On Wednesday, the senators penned an editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about their latest joint effort. The legislation was inspired by the 1997 rape and murder of a 12-year-old in West Virginia by a teacher who had been fired from a Pennsylvania school for molesting a student.

Though their shared legislative causes are solemn ones, the two men seem to enjoy their fraternity. Toomey told the Loop: “Joe Manchin is interested in getting things done. This isn’t the first time or the last time we will team up on bipartisan legislation. He is a strong partner in my effort to protect children from sexual and violent predators.”

So, the team’s back together, but don’t look for another SNL parody this time around.

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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