Democrats block Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s candidacy for more cops and counselors in schools

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Wednesday sought to push through a plan to direct billions of federal dollars toward more police officers and mental health counselors in schools nationwide, but was blocked by Democrats who criticized his decision as grandstanding rather than a serious effort.

Cruz rose in the Senate mid-afternoon and described a prayer vigil he attended in Uvalde after the Robb Elementary School shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

Grieving residents wept openly as they mourned their losses, he recalled, adding that he had visited other Texas communities rocked by mass shootings over the years.

Remembering the victims of the Uvalde school shooting

He alluded to a common pattern of insane young men falling into mental illness over time before eventually committing unspeakable crimes.

“If we had additional mental health resources on campus, they would be able to spot the warning signs, see the young man going down this dangerous path and step in and stop them,” said Cruz.

Cruz said his bill would double the number of school resource officers, improve physical security at schools and triple a FEMA security grant program.

It also has $10 billion in grants for schools to hire mental health professionals, but would exclude those who include “critical race theory” in any of their curricula.

The phrase “Critical Race Theory” has become a favorite — and critics say it’s overhyped — boogeyman quoted by conservatives. It typically refers to an academic framework that probes how policies and laws support systemic racism, but it’s not taught in K-12 schools — at least not in Texas, education officials say .

Cruz cited figures from the National Center for Education Statistics indicating that many schools still do not have adequate funding for mental health.

His bill follows a proposal he put forward earlier as an alternative to the bipartisan package eventually approved by the Senate in the wake of the Uvalde massacre.

President Joe Biden signed into law the Bipartisan Mental Health Support Program, School Safety Funding and Modest Changes to National Gun Regulations.

Cruz voted against the bipartisan package, which was brokered by fellow home-state Republican Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and U.S. Senator John Cornyn (middle) listen during a news conference about the Robb Elementary School shooting on Tuesday, Wednesday, May 25 at the Uvalde High School 25, 2022, in Uvalde, TX. (Juan Figueroa / personal photographer)

Cruz attempted on Wednesday to push his own bill through what is known as “unanimous consent,” when legislation is deemed approved if no senator objects. He did the same with another bill that would allow schools to use some of their unspent coronavirus pandemic relief money for safety measures.

Murphy simply stated “I oppose” Cruz’s first bill, prompting Cruz to say he was “really flabbergasted” that Murphy was blocking his proposal without engaging in a debate about it.

Cruz described the bipartisan bill that Murphy and Cornyn drafted as a “big gun control package” that will “do nothing, zero, to stop mass murder” and predicted the country would see other such incidents.

“I pray we don’t, but evil exists in the world and if another madman attacks a school and there isn’t a policeman at the front door to stop him, remember you right now, remember that time the Democrats said ‘no, we won’t protect our children,’” Cruz said.

Murphy also objected to Cruz redirecting unspent pandemic relief money and said he was indeed uninterested in committing to what he said was an appeal. Cruz offers for attention rather than an honest attempt to achieve anything.

“It’s not real. This is a TV show. It’s clickbait. It’s theatre,” Murphy said of Cruz. “It’s not a real attempt to pass legislation.”

Murphy said he was recently approached by another Republican senator, Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, about the legislation in question. He said he and Lankford were having serious discussions about legislation that contrasts Cruz’s approach.

In an interview afterwards, Cruz said he had no information about Murphy’s discussions with Lankford and reiterated his criticism of Murphy for not engaging in substantive debate.

Asked about his justification for excluding schools from mental health funding based on their curriculum, Cruz said he would provide a written statement later.

In the statement, Cruz did not directly explain why he would exclude certain schools, but noted that Murphy did not raise objections to specific provisions of the bill and asked why Murphy also blocked the other proposal. to spend unused emergency money on school safety.

“The only reason Murphy and the Democrats blocked school safety today is because they were more interested in playing partisan games,” Cruz said.

Cruz’s actions come as advocates push the Senate to pass a federal ban on certain semi-automatic firearms they describe as “assault weapons.”

Kimberly and Felix Rubio, who lost their daughter in the Uvalde shooting, tweeted a photo on Wednesday of a meeting with Cruz and the legend:

“Felix shared our last photo of Lexi – in her child-sized coffin – as we requested. @tedcruz to protect his constituents by supporting a federal ban on assault weapons. He refused. Instead, he said he supported increasing law enforcement presence on school campuses.

Cornyn, who also opposes such a ban, touted the benefits of the bipartisan package he helped pass into law.

In an interview Wednesday, Cornyn said he hadn’t studied the details of Cruz’s latest proposal, but noted that the package he had already adopted included significant resources for mental health and school safety.

“I’m not sure more money on top of that is necessarily the answer,” Cornyn said.

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