Posted: 11:40 am Tuesday, March 6th, 2018
By Jamie Dupree
GOP leaders in the Congress announced Tuesday morning that the U.S. House would vote next week on a school safety bill, the first legislative action in the wake of the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, but Republicans made clear that effort would not include any plans from Democrats related to restrictions on firearms.
At a news conference following a regular weekly meeting of GOP lawmakers, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said a bipartisan bill dealing with school security would get a vote next week.
“This is students, teachers, officers, preventing school violence,” McCarthy said, detailing the acronym for the STOP School Violence Act of 2018, which is backed by Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL) and Rep Ted Deutch (D-FL).
The plan would authorize $50 million in federal grants to be offered to local school systems to help improve efforts at training and detecting possible threats to schools.
The best way to keep our students and teachers safe is to prevent violence from ever entering school grounds. Next week the House will vote on @RepRutherfordFL’s #STOPSchoolViolenceAct. pic.twitter.com/IBg4WOiRLk
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) March 6, 2018
That plan also has bipartisan support in the Senate, where Senators are already looking to increase the amount of money available, as a bipartisan group unveiled a similar bill on Monday, increasing available resources to $100 million a year for the next ten years.
“What happened in Parkland is because, while different groups knew that this guy was dangerous, nobody acted on it,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who joined in endorsing the Senate version of the STOP School Violence bill.
As for further action on school shootings, McCarthy did not set votes on any other legislation, as he reminded reporters that the House has already approved the “Fix NICS” bill, which would get states and federal agencies to funnel more information into the instant background system for gun purchases.
The House did approve that “Fix NICS” proposal, but also attached to it a national concealed carry provision – last week, President Donald Trump bluntly told GOP lawmakers that he did not support combining those two matters.
Over in the Senate, a series of different ideas were percolating, like one that would notify state authorities when someone who is prohibited from buying a firearm, is stopped by the background check system.
In 37 states including Maine, state law enforcement is not alerted when prohibited individuals try to buy guns. To help stop dangerous people from obtaining guns illegally, I cosponsored a bill requiring the federal gov’t to notify states when someone fails a background check. pic.twitter.com/k4WDe4ZoJV
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) March 6, 2018
As for broader measures dealing with guns, like a ban on assault weapons, no vote seems likely on such a plan, as supporters acknowledge they would be far short of the votes to pass such a bill.
At the White House, despite a promise last week for a list of what the President would – or would not support – in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida shooting, there were still no final details.
Democrats complained it’s part of a regular cycle, where a mass shooting happens, lawmakers talk about doing something, but nothing meaningful is done, as some called for votes to ban the sale of certain weapons like an AR-15.
“An AR-15 is not for hunting, it is for killing,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who went to the Senate floor on Monday to urge votes on items like an assault weapons ban.
“These kind of weapons have no place on the streets of America,” Nelson added.