WASHINGTON — The House will take up a bipartisan school safety legislation next week as committees take a closer look at the government’s response to the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at a Florida high school, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced Tuesday.
President Trump supports the bill, which would fund threat assessments and training for students, teachers school officials and law enforcement to detect early warning signs of violence.
On Monday night, 22 bipartisan senators – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. – signed on to similar legislation. A vote hasn't been scheduled, but it is expected to advance to the floor quickly.
But neither measure expands background checks or curbs access to weapons — gun-control measures Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students have called for in the wake of the shooting that killed 17 of their classmates and staff.
McConnell did not address guns during his comments to reporters on Tuesday. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said McConnell "seems to be afraid of the issue." He called out President Trump for talking a "strong game" in front of TV cameras and then backing off after talking to members of the National Rifle Association.
Schumer seemed to rule out an attempt to include gun control in must-pass spending legislation. But he said Democrats will try to force action on gun control after the student-led March for Our Lives rallies across the country on March 24, "when when our Republican friends see that they’re just against the nation."
The Senate's school safety bill calls for more funding than the House bill, authorizing $75 million this fiscal year and $100 million annually for the next 10 years. The House bill authorizes $50 million annually, and does not provide funding for school security infrastructure improvements, as the Senate bill does.
The Senate bill also includes a line that says none of the funds may be used to provide firearms or training in the use of firearms.
McCarthy said FBI officials will speak next week to the House oversight and judiciary committees about “where the failures happened and why” in the Parkland, Fla., shooting. The FBI has acknowledged it failed to act on a tip about the shooter.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will also hold a March 14 oversight hearing on the government’s response and what steps can be taken to prevent such tragedies in the future. Witnesses will likely include members of various law enforcement agencies and others, according to the committee.
The Senate hearing coincides with school walkouts on March 14, organized with help from a “youth empowerment” arm of the Women’s March, the group that led nationwide protests against President Trump’s administration the day after his inauguration.
The walkout, on the one-month anniversary of the Florida mass shooting, will last 17 minutes to memorialize the 17 lives lost there and to protest congressional inaction on gun legislation.
Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen