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Obama says gun lobby 'willfully lied' as bipartisan background checks bill fails in senate

Sens. Joe Manchin, Pat Toomey knew they wouldn't have votes to pass bipartisan background checks on gun sales.

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President Barack Obama speaking at the White House on April 17, 2013, following the defeat of the bipartisan background checks bill in the Senate earlier that day. (Screengrab)

Politicians pushing for increased background checks on gun sales in the United States said today that divine intervention was their only hope as the bipartisan bill faced a doomed vote in the senate.

But not even a higher power could save the measure, that lost 54-46, Politico reported.

President Barack Obama held a press conference at 5:30 in the Rose Garden, saying, "The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill."

Surrounded by members of a family from Newtown and former Sen. Gabrielle Giffords (who herself was a victim of a shooting), Obama said in a stern voice, "There were no coherent arguments... it came down to politics."

"They [the opponents of gun regulations] started looking for an excuse, any excuse, to say no," he said, citing how Congress went against measures that 90 percent of Americans support. "This was a pretty shameful day for Washington."

"I'm assuming our expressions of grief and our commitment to do something are not empty words," Obama said, his frustration visible in his voice and gestures.

It was clear early on today that the bipartisan proposal from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) would go down to defeat, according to The Associated Press.

Adding up the numbers, it left Manchin to make his last-ditch appeal.

“We’re just hoping the good Lord will enter their heart and maybe change a few,” he said of his opponents before the vote.

The amendments – which include background checks for online sales and sales at gun shows, for example – needed 60 votes to pass, The Washington Post said.

According to the newspaper’s estimates, 53 senators were voting for the bill, but 42 are against and six are undecided.

Not even an appearance by the wheelchair-bound Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) to vote for the bill was emotional enough to sway senators.

Lautenberg is battling illness and had been missing from Capitol Hill for weeks.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) changed his vote at the last minute, and delivered a passionate appeal.

He said the amendments are under attack by “shameful scare tactics” and conspiracy theorists, the Post reported.

“I’ll vote for the ban because saving the lives of police officers – young and old – and innocent civilians – young and old, is more important than preventing imagined tyranny,” he said.

The final blow appears to have been undecided Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire who said today she would vote against the measures, Politico reported.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/politics/130417/bipartisan-background-checks-gun-sales-doomed-senate