House passes school safety bill, Senate has hearing on Parkland

The US House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday to fund more security at schools, exactly one month after a g...

Posted: Mar 15, 2018 10:46 PM
Updated: Mar 15, 2018 10:46 PM

The US House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday to fund more security at schools, exactly one month after a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, and as thousands of students take part in a national walkout in protest of gun violence.

While the bill had bipartisan support, many Democrats were frustrated that it doesn't include any gun control measures.

"This is a pretense that we are doing something while assuring the NRA that we aren't doing anything," Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second ranking Democrat in the House, told reporters Tuesday.

The vote was 407-10. The bill attempts to curb school violence by providing more training for school officials and local law enforcement to respond to mental health crises, as well as, among other things, money to develop anonymous reporting systems for threats and deterrent measures like metal detectors and locks.

Many Democratic lawmakers pressed Republican leaders to bring up gun control measures to expand background checks and ban assault weapons, but House GOP leaders continue to say they will wait to see what, if anything, the Senate can pass.

In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Florida shooting and failures by the FBI and law enforcement to act on warning signs displayed by the gunman before the attack.

"In the wake of the Parkland attack, this committee has an obligation to find out what happened," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, in his opening remarks. "We must hold government to account for its failures, and make sure plans are in place to avoid future tragedies. And we must rally around consensus, evidenced-based solutions that will protect our nation's most valuable resource - its youth - from violent attacks."

Both the hearing and the vote happened the same day students across the country are holding walkouts to commemorate the Parkland shooting anniversary and call for more action gun control measures. In Washington, global advocacy group Avaaz placed 7,000 pairs of shoes on the Capitol lawn to represent gun violence victims since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Protesters are demonstrating at the Capitol and in front of the White House on Wednesday.

Both of Florida's senators -- Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Bill Nelson -- testified at the hearing. The two men have also teamed up on legislation that would encourage states to adopt so-called red flag laws, which would give law enforcement the authority to seize guns from people who pose a threat to themselves or others.

It's one of many gun control bills proposed by members on both sides of the aisle, but most efforts have largely stalled.

President Donald Trump reiterated his support last weekend for a bill by Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut that would encourage states and federal agencies to enter more data into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, known as "Fix NICS."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, told reporters Wednesday that she would support including Fix NICS into the must-pass spending bill.

"Yes, I would support putting it in the omnibus," Feinstein said.

It was first introduced last fall after the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooting but it has seen renewed attention since last month's Florida shooting. While the bill currently has more than 60 cosponsors -- a normal indicator that it could avoid a filibuster -- many Democrats want to open up the legislation to amendments, and it's unclear how Republican leaders will proceed.

"I'm extremely interested in seeing Senator Cornyn's Fix NICS bill passed and a significant school safety bill passed," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Tuesday. "The best way to get that done is still under discussion. But I'm anxious to pass both of them, and pass both of them soon."

The witness list at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing also included David L. Bowdich, the acting deputy director of the FBI, as well as Ryan Petty, whose daughter was killed in the Florida shooting, and Katherine Posada, a teacher at the school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

And while there were no gun industry witnesses at the first hearing since the shooting, they loom large in the debate and play a critical role in lobbying members of Congress and rallying their supporters across the country during elections.

The House bill, the STOP School Violence Act, aims to provide more training for school officials and local law enforcement to respond to mental health crises, as well as, among other things, money to develop anonymous reporting systems for threats and deterrents like metal detectors and locks.

It does not include many of the components of a proposal unveiled by the White House -- most notably it does not include any provisions to arm teachers. House Republicans have largely ignored the President's plan, especially since he publicly declared that the major legislation the GOP-controlled chamber passed in December to loosen concealed carry rules was not something that could pass as part of broader gun legislation.

"This is about schools but it's not just about schools," Rubio told reporters Tuesday at a news conference about the Senate version of the bill. "When someone is determined that they're going to commit an act of violence, it could be in a school, it could be in a mall, it could be in a movie theater, it could be in an airport, it could be at a stadium. So what we're really focused on here more than anything else is identifying the people that are going to commit a violent act irrespective of where they're going to commit it and stopping them before they do it."

This story has been updated.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16769

Reported Deaths: 803
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds110426
Madison77829
Lauderdale76569
Neshoba73945
Jones70933
Scott66312
Forrest60039
DeSoto59310
Rankin4639
Leake45512
Holmes44431
Copiah3344
Jackson31415
Attala31218
Yazoo2985
Newton2924
Oktibbeha28314
Leflore28238
Lincoln28131
Wayne2803
Monroe26925
Harrison2687
Lamar2525
Lowndes2529
Pearl River21231
Pike20411
Adams20416
Warren19910
Washington1998
Lee1978
Noxubee1956
Covington1832
Bolivar16911
Jasper1684
Clarke15619
Smith15611
Lafayette1564
Kemper15611
Chickasaw14314
Coahoma1324
Clay1254
Winston1241
Carroll11911
Marion1169
Claiborne1165
Yalobusha1116
Grenada1104
Lawrence1071
Simpson1050
Sunflower963
Tate931
Hancock9012
Marshall893
Union897
Itawamba897
Webster885
Panola873
Wilkinson859
Montgomery841
Jefferson Davis823
Tippah7611
Calhoun684
Walthall670
Amite651
Humphreys647
Tunica583
Prentiss533
Choctaw522
Perry513
Pontotoc493
Jefferson421
Tishomingo360
Stone320
Quitman320
Tallahatchie311
Greene301
George302
Franklin292
Alcorn191
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 19387

Reported Deaths: 676
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2341123
Jefferson1927105
Montgomery190544
Tuscaloosa85316
Marshall7149
Franklin5939
Lee56334
Shelby53619
Tallapoosa43566
Butler43121
Walker3973
Elmore38110
Chambers36326
Madison3594
Unassigned3144
Morgan3141
Baldwin2969
Dallas2963
Lowndes26912
Etowah26512
DeKalb2603
Autauga2485
Coffee2401
Sumter2369
Houston2275
Pike2231
Bullock2197
Colbert1972
Hale19210
Russell1870
Barbour1831
Marengo1796
Lauderdale1752
Calhoun1693
Cullman1631
Wilcox1587
Choctaw15310
Clarke1492
St. Clair1372
Randolph1288
Dale1250
Marion12511
Talladega1215
Pickens1215
Limestone1100
Chilton1081
Greene955
Macon944
Winston920
Jackson863
Henry842
Covington831
Crenshaw803
Escambia793
Bibb761
Washington746
Blount641
Lawrence510
Monroe492
Geneva450
Perry430
Conecuh421
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
Cleburne151
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