Look before you leap is a cliche. It’s also true.

Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) found out just how true this past week when their attempt to pass a bipartisan gun deal imploded on the Senate floor.

Manchin and Toomey spent much of the previous week being lauded for working together to craft a compromise to rescue the gun bill, which includes expanded background checks for gun purchases and provides more money for school safety.

However, as this past week dawned, it became clear that they were out on a limb that their colleagues were sawing off. Early in the week, Arizona’s Jeff Flake (R), an undecided vote, came out against the bill’s compromise for background checks on most gun sales. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) followed. And then Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

By Thursday’s vote, even Manchin and Toomey had acknowledged that the 60 votes they needed just weren’t there. The background-check proposal got 54 ayes, three fewer than an amendment offered by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) that would have allowed concealed weapons to be carried across state lines.

Both men put a brave face on it. “No regrets,” Toomey told the Allentown Morning Call. Manchin insisted that the National Rifle Association had “made a big mistake” in opposing the amendment.

But, when cutting a deal, it’s kind of important to make sure you can deliver. Neither senator could do that.

Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey, for jumping to a vote too soon, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at

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