POLITICS

Gun Bill Amendments On Mental Health, Secrecy Pass In Senate, As Gun Control Package Dies

04/18/2013 01:42 pm ET | Updated Apr 19, 2013

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) formally pulled legislation to curb gun violence from consideration Thursday, after the Senate managed to pass just two of nine amendments to it -- both of which were backed by the gun lobby.

One was a provision to bar state and local governments from releasing information about gun ownership, sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). It would penalize states and localities that reveal data on licenses, permits and locations of gun owners by docking 5 percent of the locality's community policing funding. The other was an amendment to improve mental health services in the United States.

Reid pulled the overall gun bill from consideration shortly before 3:00 p.m., but he vowed to bring it back.

"I've spoken to the president. He and I agree that the best way to keep working toward passing a background check bill is hit a pause, and freeze the background check bill where it is," Reid said, pledging to victims of recent mass shootings that the Senate would keep trying.

"It's only a matter of time before we bring this anti-gun violence measure back to the floor for a vote," Reid said. "The stand of the Republicans is not sustainable. It's a question of how long they're going to stand firm, but it's not sustainable."

The mental health measure -- a bill introduced by the Senate Health Committee earlier this month -- would boost resources, increase the emphasis on identifying mentally troubled students in schools and encourage studies and treatment on adult mental illness and violence and suicide.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), one of the measure's sponsors, said the bill had no cost "score" -- because it would be up to the Appropriations Committee to fund it -- but the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cost about $800 million over five years.

"Regardless of how we might agree or disagree over all this stuff about guns and such, I hope we all agree that we need to do a better job of early identification, intervention and support services for mental health for our children in this country," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa.), the chairman of the Health Committee.

The measure passed 95 to 2. The only senators to oppose it were Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Barrasso's gun privacy amendment passed 67 to 30, with only Democrats opposed.

Although the overall gun bill was pulled from consideration, passage of the two amendments Thursday suggested that they could be offered on their own in the future.

This article was updated after Reid pulled the bill from consideration.

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.

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