In the House, Peter King takes up the Pat Toomey role on background checks

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Last night, a few hours after the Senate began debate on a background check compromise negotiated by Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey, New York congressman Peter King introduced an identical version in the House.

King introduced the bill with Rep. Mike Thompson, a California Democrat, and a handful of co-sponsors from both parties.

“Background checks are the first line of defense against criminals and the dangerously mentally ill getting guns," King and Thompson, in a joint statement. "This bill is comprehensive, it is enforceable, it will save lives, and it will protect the rights of law abiding Americans to own guns. It’s time for Congress to act. The American people are getting a vote in the Senate. They deserve one in the House."

The hope is that if the Senate can rustle up the 60 votes to break a filibuster, that the bill might arrive in the House with sufficient momentum to pass, even though Republicans make up a majority in the lower chamber.

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As co-sponsors go, King can't exactly provide the same kind of cover as Toomey does in the Senate.

Toomey is a conspicuously conservative Republican, who is (presumably) sacrificing his A-rating from the National Rifle Association to promote expanded background checks.

King, on the other hand, has been a proudly moderate member of the party, encouraging the leadership not to take the kind of hard-line positions on guns, and other issues, that Toomey was previously known for.

King was one of the few Republicans to consider new gun control legislation after the shooting of Gabby Giffords, when he suggested guns should perhaps be banned within 1,000 feet of events being held by members of Congress, a proposal that his colleagues laughed off.

But he has successfully coaxed his colleagues to make some compromises in the past, including the 9/11 health care bill, and the federal funding for Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, which were both opposed by a majority of his Republican colleagues.

And it's possible that Toomey could provide sufficient cover for both chambers.

The two Republicans who joined King as original co-sponsors on the House bill were Pat Meehan and Mike Fitzpatrick, both from Pennsylvania.

The bill's other Democratic co-sponsors, are Long Island Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, and Peter Defazio of Oregon.