A Republican senator who voted against beginning debate on a comprehensive measure to reduce gun violence on Thursday, demanded on Monday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) allow a vote on his amendment to improve mental health services.
Appearing on Fox News, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said he would not support a bipartisan measure to expand background checks to gun shows and online purchases, but urged the Senate to consider his mental health amendment. “I’d rather see us focus our efforts on mental health and areas where we actually might have the potential to prevent the things that just happened,” Blunt said:
BLUNT: I think we should take this moment to try to solve the problem, that’s why Senator [Debbie] Stabenow [D-MI] and I want want to offer our bill. Other senators are involved with me on mental health, first aid and how you make it more certain that people who have had a mental health problem that led to criminal behavior get help. We have had a number of veterans come in last week and support the mental health bill that we are for. We haven’t heard from Senator Reid yet about whether those things are going to even be offered as amendments to this bill that would actually have had impact, potentially, on what happened at sandy hook and other places.
The amendment Stabenow and Blunt are proposing would “designate certain community mental health centers as Federally Qualified Community Behavioral Health Centers — opening the door to more Medicaid reimbursement.” The mesure is widely supported by veterans groups and the mental health community but if Blunt’s vote prevailed it’s unlikely that it — or any other measure to reduce gun violence — would have been considered by the Senate.
Blunt had initially pledged to support the Senate’s motion to proceed on gun safety, but later changed his mind.