Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would dedicate more than $38 billion to increase school and community safety, including doubling the number of school resource officers nationwide.
“The Safe Kids, Safe Schools, Safe Communities Act of 2022? would be funded with unspent American Rescue Plan funds, according to the proposed legislation.
“There have been far too many school shootings in this country, and it is past time for Congress to do something to address this problem,” Cruz said in a statement.
“Our Safe Kids, Safe Schools, Safe Communities Act would focus on making schools safer by increasing the number of properly trained school resource officers on campus who can deter and, if necessary, stop school shooters before our kids are harmed, increasing the number of school mental health professionals who can identify at-risk children and ensure those kids get the help they need before they become violent, and providing funding to improve the physical security measures for schools,” he continued.
Cruz added that the new bill focuses on issues both parties can agree on, including increased prosecutions of those who illegally purchase or commit crimes with firearms.
“Our legislation also focuses on curbing gun violence by improving NICS and prioritizing law enforcement, criminal prosecutions of persons who illegally buy a gun and expanding Project Exile to more effectively prosecute those who commit violent crimes with a firearm. These are issues that the left and right should be able to agree on. Our legislation would not only help prevent school shootings, but do so while still protecting the constitutional rights of millions of law-abiding Americans,” he stated.
Barrasso added that the new legislation also increases funding for mental health professionals to assist students to prevent tragedies like the recent shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
“We all want to help prevent tragedies like what we saw in Uvalde,” Barrasso wrote in his statement with Cruz.
“Our legislation will make a difference by securing schools and providing mental health professionals to identify and address the behavioral health needs of our students. This is an opportunity for Congress to take meaningful action to make our communities safer while always protecting the constitutional rights of Americans,” he added.
The funding in the proposed will would include numerous improvements to security, including the authorization of $200 million to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The system would require an audit to make sure records that would disqualify someone from purchasing or owning a firearm are included in NICS, the senators noted.
Funding for the bill would include reallocating $17.5 billion in unspent American Rescue Plan education funds to enhance school safety, including doubling the number of trained school resource officers nationwide. A total of $10 billion in proposed grants is also included to hire 15,000 school mental health professionals for K-12 schools.