Ryan pushes mental health bill after Colo. shooting

Ryan pushes mental health bill after Colo. shooting
© Greg Nash

In the wake of the deadly shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDemocratic super PAC quotes Reagan in anti-Trump ad set to air on Fox News: 'Are you better off?' Trump lashes out at Reagan Foundation after fundraising request The Memo: Trump's grip on GOP loosens as polls sink MORE (R-Wis.) on Tuesday called on Congress to pass a bill to fix the nation’s mental health system.


"What happened is appalling and justice should be swift," Ryan said of the Friday incident, in which Robert Dear Jr. allegedly opened fire at the clinic and killed three people. “Clearly we can do more, and one common denominator in these tragedies is mental illness.”

Ryan and his leadership team are backing legislation by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), a longtime psychologist, that would overhaul the mental healthcare system, especially focusing on helping people with serious mental illness. It would create a new assistant secretary for mental health and removes restrictions on Medicaid paying for certain mental healthcare.

The Murphy bill currently is working its way through the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Echoing GOP colleagues, Ryan’s remarks about the Colorado shooting focused on mental health rather than gun control.

“I'm sure members of both parties have lots of ideas in this area,” the Speaker said, “but we should make this a priority to prevent the violence and to protect our citizens.”

Some Democrats, however, have warned that the Murphy bill could lower privacy protections by allowing more treatment information to be shared with caregivers. They also object to financial incentives for states to allow judges to mandate treatment for certain people with serious mental health issues.

Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraCampaigns accuse California AG of slanted descriptions of ballot initiatives California sues Trump administration to mandate undocumented immigrants are counted for apportionment OVERNIGHT ENERGY: 20 states sue over Trump rule limiting states from blocking pipeline projects | House Democrats add 'forever chemicals' provisions to defense bill after spiking big amendment | Lawmakers seek extension for tribes to spend stimulus money MORE said his party wants to bolster the mental health system to prevent potentially dangerous people from getting their hands on firearms. But he accused the Republicans of yanking Democratic provisions out of the Murphy bill, suggesting the Republicans should expect little help from his party in passing the bill.

"That bill ... has become, unfortunately, a partisan bill,” the California Democrat told reporters Tuesday.

He did not specify which specific provisions the Democrats oppose.

On the gun-reform front, the Democrats appear poised to focus on legislation that would block those on the government's terrorist watch-list from buying or owning firearms — a prohibition not currently in place.

Mike Lillis and Peter Sullivan contributed to this report.