Senate Republicans this week refused to consider a last-minute amendment that Senator Chris Murphy offered to an appropriations bill being debated on the Senate floor that would have clearly prevented the use of federal funds to arm public school teachers.
Murphy took to the Senate floor on Thursday to seek the prohibition after reading a New York Times article reporting that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was considering allowing school districts to use Title IV federal funds to purchase firearms for teachers.
“Reports this morning suggest that Secretary DeVos is planning to do the bidding of the firearms industry and put our kids at risk by allowing federal funds to be used to arm teachers in direct contravention of federal law,” he said. “I have offered an amendment that will reiterate what has been the policy of this Congress, not Congress in general, but this Congress that federal funds should not be used to arm teachers,” he said on the Senate floor.
In March, Congress passed a school safety bill that allocated $50 million a year to local school districts, but expressly prohibited the use of the money for firearms.
DeVos, however, is considering using Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants — a program that makes no mention of prohibiting weapons purchases — to approve any state or district plans to use grant funding for firearms and firearm training, according to the New York Times.
The Senate had been debating amendments this week to appropriations bill for the 2019 fiscal year that would provide $857 billion to fund the departments of Defense, Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services. By Thursday afternoon, the Senate had prepared to close off amendments and vote on a final version of the bill. Murphy did not expect his amendment would be considered but suggested that it be included when House and Senate negotiators sit down to hammer out a final bill for an up-or-down vote. The Senate passed the appropriations bill early Thursday evening, 85-7, without the amendment.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro also issued a statement criticizing DeVos for seeking a way to use federal funds to arm teachers.
“Arming teachers is not the answer to school shootings, and it is outrageous that Secretary DeVos would even consider using taxpayer dollars on such a dangerous proposal,” she said.
Murphy is running for re-election this year and is facing a challenge from Republican Matthew Corey, a Navy veteran and business owner who has criticized the incumbent for his crusade against gun violence.
In an interview this week with Breitbart, Corey said that Murphy has made gun control his “number one issue.”
“Look, I’m an avid Second Amendment supporter,” Corey told Brietbart. “I took the oath to protect the Constitution in the United States Navy. This is about school safety. Two school districts here in Connecticut just put resource officers in their schools who are carrying. This is about protecting our kids. It’s about a mental health issue.”
Corey also blasted Murphy for using the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017 to raise campaign funds, as reported by The Hill newspaper. “He has been feeding off of the shootings,” he said. “It’s sickening. Every time there’s one of these tragedies, he’s raising funds on it.”
Murphy and Senator Richard Blumenthal have scheduled a press availability at 9 a.m. at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford to discuss the issue.