In the wake of Monday's tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, U.S. Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) are calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to immediately bring to the floor bipartisan legislation that would help strengthen the nation's mental health system.
During Senate consideration of gun legislation in April, the Senate voted 95-2 in favor of the bipartisan Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act (S. 689), which was introduced as an amendment by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and cosponsored by Senators Begich and Ayotte. The legislation includes key provisions of the Begich-Ayotte Mental Health First Aid Act (S. 153) that would provide support for training programs to help the public identify, understand, and address crisis situations safely. The measure also calls for protocols to increase familiarity with mental health services available in local communities, and it would provide grants for mental health awareness training programs for groups of individuals such as teachers, first responders, police officers, school and college administrators, veterans, and nurses.
Senators Begich and Ayotte said:
"We welcome the Majority Leader's remarks in which he said he was open to considering bringing up mental health legislation. Given the clear connection between recent mass shootings and mental illness, the Senate should not delay bipartisan legislation that would help address this issue. The Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act previously passed the Senate with near unanimous support, and we urge Leader Reid and Leader McConnell to work together to bring this bill to the Senate floor as a stand-alone bill that could be voted on and passed immediately."