- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
- L.A. sheriff admits to testing flyover spy program without notifying residents
- Foreign minister vows response if Russians are attacked in Ukraine
- Robert Griffin III to drive pace car before Richmond NASCAR race
- Material on Australian shore examined in jet hunt
Actress Glenn Close plays starring role touting mental health bill
With a boost from some Hollywood royalty Wednesday, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are increasingly bullish about the likelihood they’ll be able to boost mental health spending in response to the Newtown school shooting, even as Democrats vowed not to let that spoil their push for a broader crackdown on gun ownership.
Actress and multiple Oscar-contender Glenn Close visited the Capitol on Wednesday to tout legislation from Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri that would let behavioral health centers get federal Medicaid reimbursements.
“We need to be treating the diseases above the neck the same we do those below the neck,” Ms. Stabenow said.
Her bill would create a 10-state pilot program where states would demonstrate that the centers meet the necessary standards and provide certain services, such as substance-abuse treatment and 24-hour crisis care.
Nearly two dozen co-sponsors have signed on, and the bill cleared the Senate Finance Committee last week. Congress’s nonpartisan budget scorekeeper estimates the plan would cost $1.6 billion over 10 years.
Mr. Blunt and Ms. Stabenow were confident the bill would pass the Senate because they attached it to what they say is a “must-pass” bill to fix cuts in payments to doctors that treat Medicare patients.
Mr. Blunt said they’ve also been talking with members of the House, and said Rep. Tim Murphy, Pennsylvania Republican, has introduced more expansive mental health legislation of his own in the GOP-controlled House.
“Acts of violence [are] one of the things that’s brought us to look at this as a Senate and as a country again,” Mr. Blunt said. “We see over and over again in tragedy after tragedy, one absolute common thread is a behavioral health issue that hasn’t been dealt with.”
But Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat and one of the co-sponsors of the Excellence in Mental Health Act, said that Congress must also do more on guns, after the shooting deaths a year ago of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“There’s no simple solution,” Mr. Murphy said. “I know that sometimes it seems like the only thing we come down here and talk about are stricter gun laws. I just don’t believe there’s any reason why we don’t require criminal background checks for guns before they’re purchased or that we don’t just simply say that these dangerous assault weapons should stay out of the hands of people who aren’t in law enforcement or the military.”
In April, legislation that would have expanded gun-purchase background checks to sales online and at gun shows failed to pass in the Senate. Currently, only federally licensed dealers are required to perform the checks.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in marking the one-year anniversary of the Newtown shootings, said Congress’s failure to pass background check legislation was “shameful” and vowed that Democrats would continue to press forward on the issue.
“Why should someone that has severe mental illness and someone who is a criminal be able to purchase a gun? They shouldn’t,” the Nevada Democrat said. “Those that are trying to stop this legislation from going forward should be embarrassed [and] ashamed of themselves.”
“The American people will prevail on this issue,” Mr. Reid continued. “It’s gonna happen — it’s only a question of when it happens.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Supreme Court pushes consideration of N.J. gun case to April 25
- Supreme Court weighs appeal to concealed-carry gun laws
- Michael Bloomberg charts $50M challenge to NRA: 'Got to make them afraid'
- McAuliffe's PAC off to fast start, with $254,000 raised in two weeks
- Virginia Republican Bob Marshall stands by remarks that raise eyebrows
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Feds who send arms against ranch families betray American values
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- Georgia governor signs bill expanding gun rights
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Opposition rising to Colorado gun control laws
- Professor apologizes after blasting Republicans in class
- Harry Reid using tax dollars to fight Koch brothers, La. GOP chair charges
- Ukraine claims torture by pro-Russian forces on the heels of Biden's stern warning to Moscow
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014