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Public Statements

Time for Congress to Act is Long Overdue

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the remarks of my dear colleague from Connecticut, Elizabeth Esty, who has done such a remarkable job in representing that district and especially the families of Newtown, Connecticut, in the aftermath of this horrific tragedy.

Mr. Speaker, the time for us to act is long overdue. The hard truth for the United States Congress is, as Congressman Mike Thompson pointed out, since Newtown, 5,000 Americans have lost their lives at the point of a gun; 5,000 Americans since Newtown.

The United States Congress has a responsibility to act and do its constitutionally obligated desire to get this bill passed. Now, whether you believe this is the correct course of action or not, as the President said in his State of the Union message, you still have a responsibility to vote. This is a democracy. Every day that we delay a vote on this bipartisan bill, Congress is complicit--Congress is complicit--in the deaths of those American citizens who wait for action as Congress sits by as 5,000 more victims die at the point of a gun.

I commend the families of Newtown, and the whole world was heartened when Mark Barton stepped out into the Rose Garden with the President of the United States and reiterated a phrase that has held them all together: that their hearts are broken, along with those of the entire world as we look down at this tragedy, but their spirit is not. And they are undaunted in their determination, driven by the memories of those teachers and administrators and students who died so tragically. They--both students and teachers--were willing to stand in the way of violence, and the United States Congress can't do its constitutional responsibility and stand up and vote?

All of us in America watched as the United States Senate, with families in the gallery, voted on background checks that 91 percent of the American people agree with, voted it down. No teacher in America could explain the next day how the vote was 54-46, and it lost. Citizens all across this country take heed: do not give up. Continue to fight this fight. Fight what's wrong with Congress about not taking votes when they should and about a system in the Senate where a majority prevails and a vote goes down because of the cloture rule, an arbitrary rule in the United States Senate.

The outrage has to start outside of this building because here in this building, people remain complicit in the acts that will only continue to take place if Congress does not take action.

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