House GOP prepares response to Florida shooting, but Democrats want more

Lindsey McPherson, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- House GOP leaders on Tuesday announced their legislative response to a mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead -- a bill to create a federal grant program for schools to implement threat assessment protocols.

The House will vote on the STOP School Violence Act by Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., next week, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said.

The California Republican also announced that the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees would be holding hearings with the FBI to assess why they did not act on tips about Nikolas Cruz before he executed the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Parkland, Fla.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan talked about the action House committees are taking in response to the Florida shooting during the weekly Republican Conference meeting Tuesday.

In addition to oversight over the FBI, the Energy and Commerce Committee will be looking at the link between mental health and violence, Ryan said, according to a person in the room. The speaker also noted the mental health law Congress passed is just starting to take effect and the upcoming omnibus spending bill will include funding needed for its implementation.

McCarthy said the STOP School Violence Act will be in addition to the Fix NICS bill the House already passed to improve reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. That measure included a provision allowing persons with a concealed carry permit from their home state to carry their guns across state lines.

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GOP leaders have said they don't want to remove the concealed carry provision, despite President Donald Trump and Senate leaders warning that Fix NICS can't pass with it in the bill.

The Senate may attempt to add the Fix NICS bill without the concealed carry provision to the fiscal 2018 omnibus, which Congress is hoping to pass before the March 23 government funding deadline. McCarthy declined to speculate about that possibility.

"Let's see what the Senate's able to do, just like any other bill. The House continues to work on this," he said, citing the actions he announced. "The Senate has a lot of legislation sitting over there. Let's see what they can actually act upon."

The STOP School Violence Act is expected to pass the House with overwhelming support from both parties. But Democrats want more.


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