Pence: Praying 'takes nothing away' from trying to figure out causes behind mass shooting
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Vice President Pence said Tuesday that Americans offering prayers "takes nothing away" from authorities trying to understand the causes behind the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that left more than two dozen people dead.

"It takes nothing away from our determination ... to get to the bottom of what happened, to understand the why, to determine whether or not there were errors along the way," Pence said during an interview with Fox News host Shannon Bream airing late Tuesday.

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Pence noted continued questions surrounding the reporting of the gunman's background in the Air Force after he was forced out of the military following a bad conduct discharge.

"Right now I truly believe that covering those families in prayers, making a difference in their lives and they'll continue to support those families in that community in the days ahead," he said of the shooting's victims.

A number of Republicans have caught flak for offering "thoughts and prayers" after recent mass shootings, with critics calling it an ineffectual response and pushing for GOP lawmakers to take legislative action.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow the Trump tax law passed: Dealing with a health care hangover Dems fight to protect Mueller amid Rosenstein rumors Jordan wants Rosenstein to testify before House Judiciary Committee MORE (R-Wis.) similarly defended the role of prayer in an interview Monday night with Fox News's Laura Ingraham, saying that the families affected by the shooting that left 26 people dead and at least 20 more injured the previous day "need our prayers," because "prayer works."

"It's disappointing. It's sad, and this is what you'll get from the far secular left," Ryan said. "People who do not have faith, don't understand faith, I guess I'd have to say."

Pence said Tuesday that he and President Trump often receive assurances from Americans that they're praying for them, and that "they're the sweetest words we ever hear." 

The vice president is set to travel to Sutherland Springs on Wednesday with his wife Karen to meet with the families of the victims as well as law enforcement.