Senators want to announce first arms deal as soon as possible


A bipartisan group of senators on Sunday announced an agreement in principle on gun safety legislation, which includes “necessary resources for mental health, improving school safety and support for students, and helping to ensure that dangerous criminals and those identified as the mentally ill cannot carry weapons.” to buy”. ‘ they said in a statement.

Notably, the announcement includes the backing of 10 Republican senators, who would give the proposal enough support to overcome the Senate filibuster. The agreement is important given the divisions of lawmakers over the arms issue, but the actual legal text has not yet been written.

The proposal includes support for public procurement for crisis intervention, funding for school safety funds, an improved appraisal process for buyers under 21 and fines for buying straw.

Critically, the legislation includes a so-called red flag provision, under which the government “provides resources to states and tribes to create and enforce laws to ensure that lethal weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals identified by a court of law.” as a significant danger to self or others,” the statement said. The proposal also includes “major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs; and other support services available in the community, including crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.”

In addition, the legislation would provide resources “to expand mental health and support services in schools, including: early identification and intervention programs and school-based mental health and general services.”

The group on the release includes Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, Thom Tillis and Richard Burr of North Carolina, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Democratic Senators at the release include Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly of Arizona, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Chris Coons of Delaware, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. It also includes Senator Angus King of Maine, an independent who consults with Democrats.

President Joe Biden said on Sunday the agreement “doesn’t do everything I think is necessary, but it reflects important steps in the right direction”.

If passed, Biden wrote, the framework would “highlight the most significant gun safety legislation Congress has passed in decades,” adding: “With bipartisan support, there are no excuses for delay, and no reason why it shouldn’t be passed quickly. Senate would go. and the house.”

“Every day that goes by, more children are being killed in this country: the sooner it gets to my desk, the sooner I can sign it, and the sooner we can use these measures to save lives.”

Biden also thanked Murphy, who led the negotiations for Democrats, as well as Cornyn, Sinema and Tillis.

“The principles they announced today demonstrate the value of dialogue and collaboration,” Kentucky Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. “I continue to hope that their discussions produce a two-pronged product that makes significant progress on important issues such as mental health and school safety, respects the Second Amendment, gains widespread support in the Senate and makes a difference to our country.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would table a bill “as soon as possible”.

“After a relentless spate of firearms-related suicides and homicides, including mass shootings, the Senate is poised to press ahead with common-sense reforms to protect Americans where they live, shop and learn,” the statement said. New York Democrat. “We need to act quickly to move this legislation forward because if a single life can be saved, it’s worth it.”

Still, the agreement would be important given the divisions of lawmakers over the gun issue, even in the wake of a series of devastating mass shootings, including one that killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

A source with knowledge of the discussions said the negotiators hoped 10 Republican senators would sign the agreement before it was announced, showing they can pass the 60-vote filibuster threshold. The Senate is currently split equally between the Democratic and GOP conferences with 50 seats each.

The Senate’s four main negotiators – Murphy, Sinema, Cornyn and Tillis – have been in talks all weekend to work out the final details and have also been in talks with a larger bipartisan group of negotiators.

The House voted 223-204 last week to pass a broad package of gun control legislation called the Protecting Our Kids Act. However, the measure is not expected to pass the Senate, amid widespread GOP opposition to tighter gun control.

Legislative changes in the House of Representatives came hours after an emotional hearing on gun violence in which families of victims called for more action.

Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland on Sunday praised Senate negotiators ahead of the announcement for their work on the legislation, but stopped expressing his support for the forthcoming package.

“Well, we would definitely vote on it and work on it,” he said of “State of the Union” when asked if we would vote in favor of the bill, adding: “It’s going in the right direction. We’re happy that the Senate is finally awake.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive Democrat from New York, later said on the same program that she would be willing to support the legislation “if we get a real baby step, I don’t think some kind of distraction from the solution.” She stressed that including a background check provision is critical.

“You know, I believe if we can get background checks, I hope — I hope it’s a yes” to the legislation, Ocasio-Cortez said.

This story has been updated with news of the announced deal.

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