GOP rep pushes for school safety program in government funding bill

GOP rep pushes for school safety program in government funding bill
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Rep. John RutherfordJohn Henry RutherfordEd Markey, John Rutherford among victors at charity pumpkin-carving contest 'Mass shooting' at Florida video game tournament: authorities Carter, Yoder advance in appropriations committee leadership reshuffle MORE (R-Fla.) is pressing House appropriators to include funding for a school safety program in an upcoming government spending bill, he told The Hill on Tuesday.

Rutherford is the lead sponsor of a bipartisan bill, called the Stop School Violence Act, that would create a new grant program aimed at educating students and adults about how to spot and report warning signs of gun violence. 

The House will vote on the measure next week as part of the GOP’s response to last month’s deadly shooting at a Florida high school.

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But the bill only authorizes $50 million in federal funding for the program, meaning appropriators would still have to actually dole out the money for school safety efforts.

Rutherford told The Hill on Tuesday that he spoke with Rep. John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonTexas GOP rep predicts heavy Democratic presence in state ahead of 2020 Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Former GOP Rep. Walters joins energy company MORE (R-Texas), chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on commerce, justice and science, about potentially including the money in an upcoming government funding bill.

“We’re waiting to see. I do believe [they’re receptive],” said Rutherford, a former sheriff. “It’s a very important issue right now. The sooner that we make these funds available for schools to harden the target, do the educational piece, the better." 

Lawmakers are currently in the process of drafting a massive, trillion-dollar omnibus spending package, which could get a vote as early as next week. Current government funding runs out March 23

Rutherford’s measure is expected to amass overwhelming support in the House, though Democrats want to see far more done in response to the Florida school shooting.

The school safety bill would train students, teachers, school officials and local law enforcement on how to identify early signs of gun violence, create a coordinated reporting system and implement FBI and Secret Service-based school threat assessment protocols that are designed to prevent school shootings before they happen.