The Senate broke a years-long stalemate and passed a bipartisan gun violence package. After weeks of talks, senators passed the most notable piece of gun safety legislation in three decades. The bill passed 65-33, with 15 Senate Republicans voting for it, The Hill reports. The measure boosts funding for mental health, bolsters background checks for people under 21 who try to purchase firearms and incentivizes states to set up red flag laws. The Senate passed it a month after the shooting in Uvalde, Tx., that killed 19 schoolchildren and two teachers, and seemingly lit a fuse for lawmakers to act. “I don’t believe in doing nothing in the face of what we’ve seen in Uvalde and other communities. Doing nothing is an abdication of our responsibility,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), lead GOP negotiator. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) echoed the sentiment and argued that the bill should “prove to a weary American public that democracy is not so broken that it is unable to rise to the moment.”
Talks between the two sides started after the Uvalde killings when Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) allowed Murphy and Republicans time to come up with a bipartisan offering rather than simply putting partisan pieces of legislation on the floor for messaging votes. Schumer said he sensed Senate Republicans could be amenable to something this time around that wasn’t on the table in the past, especially after mass school shootings in Sandy Hook, Ct., in 2012 and Parkland, Fl., in 2018 gripped the nation. Cornyn, Murphy and Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) weaved together a proposal that saw both sides notch victories. In addition to provisions on red flag laws, mental health and background checks, the bill closes the “boyfriend” loophole and cracks down on straw purchasers and illegal gun traffickers. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), said the proposal is a political winner for the GOP, adding that he hoped "it will be viewed favorably by voters in the suburbs we need to regain in order to hopefully be in the majority next year.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the House will to pass the bill Friday, sending it to President Biden.