Dems plan gun amendments on mental health bill
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Democratic lawmakers are planning to offer gun-related amendments to a major mental health bill being considered in committee days after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, according to Democratic aides.

There will be a “couple” of gun-related amendments offered Wednesday by Democratic lawmakers, the aide said.

Republican leadership has in the past pointed to the mental health bill, from Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), as their party’s response to increased U.S. gun violence, but Democrats have long countered that gun control, not just action on mental health, is needed.

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The shooting deaths of 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando this weekend have put the issue back in the national spotlight. And Some Democrats are now planning to make guns part of the conversation when the House Energy and Commerce Committee considers the mental health bill.

Many other Democrats on the committee, however, said they are not planning to offer gun-related amendments, seeking to keep the issue of mental health separate. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), the panel's top Democrat, is not expected to offer gun-related measures.

Gun control is a fiercely divisive issue, but the parties are finding some agreement on reforming the nation's mental healthcare system.

Murphy’s bill has long been delayed amid Democratic opposition, but recent changes have left Democrats feeling good about the bill.

Republicans could simply vote down any gun-related amendments and keep the bipartisan nature of the underlying bill intact, but the full scope of Democrats' plans is unclear.

One gun-related measure comes from Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.), who plans to offer an amendment lifting a ban on federal gun violence research, a longtime goal of Democrats, his office said.

Murphy said earlier Tuesday that he wants to keep gun issues out of the bill.

“This is a disease, mental illness,” Murphy said. “I don't want to see us taint it or demean it to say, ‘Let's just talk about an object.’ That takes away from the importance and the meaningfulness of what people are suffering.”