Ask any Republican lawmaker what their solution to gun violence is and they’ll say “mental illness,” particularly when it comes to school shootings. Here’s Mitch McConnell after the Uvalde, Texas, massacre, saying that Congress needed to “target the problem,” and the problem isn’t guns, it’s “mental illness and school safety.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott specifically argued that a lack of mental health care resources was the cause of the Uvalde massacre. “What I do know is this: We as a state, we as a society, need to do a better job with mental health. Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge, period.”
Okay, say Democrats. Let’s do something about mental health in school. On Thursday, House Democrats passed the Mental Health Matters Act, written specifically to try to address the mental health crisis in schools to help students, families, and teachers who have all been harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. One Republican, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), voted with Democrats to pass the bill.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), said his legislation is intended to address the ripple effect of student mental health concerns through the school community. “Educators have been forced to play an outsized role in supporting and responding to students’ mental health needs, leading to increased depression and trauma among educators, their students, and the families and the community. However, our schools do not have the specialized staff necessary to respond to the increased prevalence and complexity of students’ mental health needs,” he said.
“Simply put, the Mental Health Matters Act delivers the resources students, educators, and families need to improve their well-being,” DeSaulnier added.
Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the ranking member on the Education committee who once tried to strip the word “shooting” from a bill about school shootings, didn’t just say the bill isn’t necessary; she said the “country would be better off without” it.
Somehow, it seems like Republicans don’t truly care about the mental health of young people. Go figure.
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Since Dobbs, women have registered to vote in unprecedented numbers across the country, and the first person to dig into these stunning trends was TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier, who's our guest on this episode of The Downballot. Bonier explains how his firm gathers data on the electorate; why this surge is likely a leading indicator showing stepped-up enthusiasm among many groups of voters, including women, young people, and people of color; how we know these new registrants disproportionately lean toward Democrats; and what it all might mean for November.