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tv   U.S. Senate Sens. Blunt Stabenow Cardin on Gun Bill  CSPAN  June 24, 2022 4:29am-5:01am EDT

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hopes and prayers, but with concrete action. i would encourage all of my colleagues to support the bipartisan safer communities act. each life that we save by passing this legislation will mean literally everything to that person's loved ones, and that is what this is all presenn the alaskan of the week and how much i enjoyed it. i would say the topic today, tragic in so many ways, but i think moving forward in others, last month 19 kids were killed in their own schoolrooms, two teachers were killed at uvalde, texas. it was an horrific act, agonizing thing for families, an agonizing thing for community. and i think along with the buffalo, new york, event, an agonizing thing for our country. one thing that almost all these
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be mass shootings have in common is a perpetrator who had a mental health issue that wasn't dealt with properly. let me say before senator stabenow and i talk any more about mental health, and i believe i'll repeat this again to be sure we know what we're talking about here. people with mental health conditions are not dangerous. mental health is a health issue, and we ought to treat it as a health issue. but in rare and tragic occasions, people with a mental health issue undealt with can become dangerous, and that's what we've seen in this and other similar circumstances. and so one of the responses is always, well, we need to have a better mental health delivery system, and that's true. but we should realize that according to the national institutes of health, for at least a decade now they have estimated that at least one in five americans has a diagnosable and almost always treatable
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mental health or behavioral health issue. and, frankly, the pandemic made that even greater. june 2020 survey by the centers for disease control and prevention found that 41% of adults in the united states said they had had at least one symptom of a mental health condition in a recent time. and 11% said they had seriously considered suicide in the previous month. those are extraordinary numbers, but even if they were -- half of those numbers were correct, you see the size of the problem we have and the importance of dealing with that problem. of course we had even more alarming numbers with children and young adults during that. lockdowns, months of virtual learning, time away from their friends. i'd argue too much time on
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screens, the effect of the pandemic on close family members had a staggering toll on the country. children's hospital saw mental health emergencies among 5 to 17-year olds increase by 14% in the first half of 2021 compared to 2019 and a 45% increase in self-injury and suicide for children in that age group. pediatric hospital needs, pediatric mental health care needs are greater than they've ever been. we need to be sure that everyone who has a mental health crisis or has an ongoing mental health problem has the help that they need when they need it. the bipartisan legislation we're debating today expands access to high-quality henlt and behavioral -- mental health and behavioral health through what senator stabenow and i will point out we believe to be a you
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truly proven model of community-based care. the excellence in mental health program, a program that we brought to the floor in 2013 and then got passed, signed into law in 2014, at the time senator stabenow mentioned that that bill marked the most significant expansion of community mental health and addiction services in decades. when we -- when we passed this -- pass this bill, it will be even more dramatic in its long-term impact. we worked on these issues in pilot states. we worked on these issues together that brought project in individual states that wasn't part of that eight state and eventually nine-state pilot. so today we're able to come with five years of history in this program, a reimbursement model that matters and results that we
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think makes a difference. i'm glad to be here with my good friend from michigan, and we're going to try to do this together for the next few minutes of what will happen because of a critical piece of this community safety bill that is in so many ways a mental health and mental health delivery bill that we're going to see expanded in the country in unique ways. senator stabenow, i'd like to turn it to you for a few minutes and then i have a few things i would like to say. ms. stabenow: thank you, senator blunt. i have to say this has been a wonderful partnership and wonderful journey now for almost ten years since we originally started about funding health care above the neck as well as health care blow the neck -- below the neck in health care and we have so many wonderful
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community centers. we're not the only ones that have been working for almost ten years. our wonderful staff, alex graph on my staff who has been working on this for eight of those years and katelyn wilson on your staff who was amazing and i understand recently stolen by senator cornyn. so many people worked with us that we've been grateful to, including the main authors and the folks that have put this bill together, like senator cornyn, who has been such a strong supporter of what has become an evidence-based quality initiative. we don't have to make something up. when folks say what do you want to do about mental health care? we have a model now. and senator sinema and murphy
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and senator tillis, so many people have been supportive of this as well. i want to take us back for just a moment. when we came back to the floor, senator blunt, when you mentioned 2018, we came to the floor to mark the 50th anniversary of president kennedy signing the community mental health act. that was the last bill he ever signed before himself being shot. and part of that was to stop housing people hospitals, just locking people in hospitals and create more quality care in the community. shut the hospitals, open up services in the community. and as you have said so many times, half of that happened. the hospitals were closed, but we didn't provide the quality and the funding -- permanent funding for the community care. that was 1963. we're doing it now in this bill. that's what we are doing in this bill is completing what was
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promised in a national bill signed in 1963. so we know, again, that one out of five people in our country -- and this is before covid -- will have a mental illness in their lifetime. so many leading cause of death -- again, prior to covid for people under age 50 is a drug overdose, opioid overdose, and the most likely cause of suicide is -- are guns. in this bill, if a family member, if those around someone feel that they are a danger to themselves and someone else and should not have access to a gun, they can go through a legal process to have that happen so
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that that person is not using a gun to commit suicide or suicide-homicide through a mass shooting. but what is so significant about this is that we know that across this country, certainly across michigan, i know in missouri, we have so many people -- i mean there are millions of people today that want to be able to get help for mental health or addiction as part of the health care system. and we want them to do that. we don't want them to be a stigma. there used to be a stigma. people would whisper, he's got cancer and now we openly talk about that. we have wonderful programs and we get treatment and there's no stigma related to that. it's very challenging, but there's no stigma. we want that for mental illness, for behavioral health. this isn't about saying every person with a mental illness is
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dangerous at all -- at all. this is about saying we want everyone to get the help they need and in that situation, that rare situation where somebody doesn't get help and then takes those next steps and is unstable and dangerous, we certainly want to address protecting themselves, their family, the school, the neighborhood, the community and that's what the gun safety provisions of this are all about. let me just say one other thing and turn it back to senator blunt. we now have between the number of demonstration states we've had now for a number of years, we also have 435 clinics, many of them funded through what we developed as start-up grants, so they could get started and be able to show what a difference it made. but i think we were both pretty blown away when we saw the
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difference it made, when we saw the original numbers from health and human services, the studies that were done, both in democratic and in republican administrations, reinforcing that. the fact that right now, if you have a 24-hour psychiatric crisis services center, which is part of this, these clinics, people aren't going to jail. 60% fewer people going to jail because they're getting the help they need, which is why law enforcement so strongly supports this. or what's been happening is people go to the emergency room instead because there's no place. our jails, our emergency rooms have become de facto mental health treatment centers because there was no place else. 41% reduction in homelessness with comprehensive care in the community, and that is what's in this bill. and it really is transformative, wouldn't you say, senator blunt? mr. blunt: yes, and i think the point you are making here are, these are -- we now have five
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years of evidence in several states, multiple years in other states, so this isn't just assuming what will happen, but looking at what we've carefully tried to keep track of what does happen. and as you pointed out, that de facto mental health delivery system of the emergencies and police, nobody was well served by that. certainly the police weren't well served, the emergency rooms weren't well served and seeing those numbers go down dramatically of people having to go to the emergency room for mental health services are being kept -- or being kept in jail overnight or longer than overnight for mental health services, nobody benefits from that system. we're seeing real numbers where the people who work at the emergency room and the people who work in the police department are among the biggest supporters of this system when
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it gets in place. and also the whole idea of crisis intervention, there are opportunities in this law for that to happen, and any of the new structures, whether that's drug court or veterans court or other places you would go to get the help that somebody needs when it's needed, there would also be due process involved to anything that's added to this bill that's added to the system. due process, when people have a right, when there's an emergency moment, obviously you have to deal with it as an emergency moment, but people then have a right to have their day in court as well if they are not part of that crisis intervention moment of seeing that happen. and so that's important. but the -- you know, in missouri 150,000 people are now part of this excellence in mental health effort. that's about a 40% increase on
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what some of the same facilities were doing before, but now they do it with more certainty that they're going to get their cost reimbursed. they do it with the right kind of staff, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. they have to be available. and the new states that enter the program will go through that same type of competition to be among the ten states every two years that could enter the program and get us to all 50 states in that program and have the kind of staff they need, the kind of accessibility they need. i think originally in our bill, which was eight years ago now, 2014, 24 states applied to be one of the first eight states in the pilot program. 19 of them went through the
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whole process and eight states were selected. but in the other states, there are now 30 states that have big units that were able to qualify as individual demonstration grant units to show what they could do and we really, i think, both believe that those units in those states will become both the models and the incentive to bring the whole state into the program now that that's possible. and seeing what we're seeing with results, and also results in the nonmental health side. one of the unique things that i think this pilot did was part of the pilot was to see what happens of the other health care issues that people have who have mental health concerns. and what's happened is they've seen those costs go dramatically down. if you've got a behavioral health problem that's being dealt with, you're much more likely to show up to your doctor's appointment, you're
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much more likely to show up for dialysis, and you are much more likely to show up with your mental health situation or your other mental health situations, so those costs go down. and even in the immediate health care spare, mr. president, we're seeing that states believe they're saving money in the immediate space of health care. there's nevada been any question that -- there's never been any question that in the long run you'd be saving money if you treat mental health like you treat all other health, there's never been any question whether it's the prison system or mental health, what we've shown in these early states is that even in the immediate health care space, you save as much money or virtually as much money or even more money on the other health costs for the one in five adult americans and now big numbers among younger americans that
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have a mental health problem, you save as much space with their other mental health problems and one naive americans are going to have other health problems, a pretty big segment of our society. i think, senator stabenow, seeing what happened there is persuasive to states as they're beginning to think about making this part of their permanent program when these pilot projects are over. ms. stabenow: senator blunt, as we know, in the end this is all about people. and i think what's been most exciting for me and i know for my friend and partner is that people's lives are changing, opportunities for them are changing, and when we look at this legislation broadly, it is about saving lives, whether it's through issues related to gun safety, whether it's through getting the help you need, mental health and addictions services health, whether it's make sure that our schools are
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available and it's all about creating safety and a better quality of life. i think it's also exciting, you know, we're talking about community behavioral health clinics that there are broader investments on mental health as well. there's a strengthening of the suicide hotline which is so connected to what we've been talking about today. telehealth, we know during the pandemic how critically important that was for mental health services and so on and that's strengthened. there's about a billion dollars worth of investments in some ways in our schools, school health clinics and other opportunities. what i think is exciting is that we're not only supporting schools and teachers and -- in all of these areas that are so important, but we're making sure that when they find a child that needs help, there's somewhere to go. because when you're talking about really investing in
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transformative, certified community behavioral health clinics, that means there's a service in the community. so if a parent or if a teacher or the principal or the coach or somebody is saying this young person needs some help, they won't only be trained to identify they need help, they'll actually be able to get them help because there will be sses available. so i think that's the whole point of all of this. i would also finally say when we talk about funding health care, traditionally services that be funded by grants that stop and start. you may want your child to get help, but the grant that was doing that went away. or you may suddenly is decide that you with aens to deal with your own -- you want to deal with your a decision. it's so hard. and you reach out and the
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services aren't there anymore. and so this is about funding this as health care, through the health care system. so it doesn't stop and start. it becomes a way of looking at health care -- above the neck, the same as health care below the neck. that's why we call it transformative. it's such an important commitment. i'm so proud of everyone here that has been so wonderfully supportive andenthusiastic about taking this big step. this is an area of this bill that's a huge step that will really save lives and transform communities, i think. mr. blunt: just one final thought, a mr. president. we want to be sure that we're encouraging people to get the health care they need. you know, if this system works like it should work, you really never know what you're doing in terms of what -- how you've changed people's lives in the future or the lives of people they might impact. you know, we don't want to create any stigma here that a
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resilient, broad-based mental health system that's part of this bill means that you should be hesitant to seek mental health help. you know, you've got a mental health problem, you're more likely to be the victim after crime than you are the perpetrator of a crime. but if those problems get out of control, often suicidal thoughts first before you have homicidal thoughts. but if the system works the way it should, who knows what good you've done by just letting people go through their normal lives as contributing citizens with treating their mental health and talking about their mental health, as senator stabenow said, being able to talk about somebody in your family that has a mental health challenge -- mental health challenge as readily as talk about somebody in your family that has a cancer fiscal or a dialysis trip that they have to make multiple times a week to go somewhere or medicine that they take for something else and
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talking about this in the context of the good it does and making our society safer should in no way be interpreted to mean that people with a mental health concern are unsafe. but if you don't deal with that problem in the right way at the right time, it has the potential to be unsafe. most of these shootings we've seen, the shooter goes into that shooting clearly anticipating that they will not come out of that shooting alive either. so it's suicide, it's homicide, it's things that if you dealt with that problem a decade earlier and maybe some cases the specific problem even a week earlier, if you dealt with it a decade earlier, when people begin to say, we need to get you some help, just like if your hearing or eyesight is going bad, people say, let's get an appointment and see what we can do. appeared anybody can be seen at
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has to -- and anybody can be seen at these certified behavioral health centers. anybody can be seen if if you're covered by -- it's very much based on the qualified center health model. if you have insurance that covers this, you can go there. if you have a government program that covers it you can go there. if you need to pay cash, you can go there on a very affordable sliding scale, but people are seen and nobody in our state at least -- and i think this would be the case in all nine of the pilot states -- nobody who needs to be seen that day is not seen that day. nobody who needs to be seen that day is not seen that day. and nobody who needs to be seen isn't seen pretty quickly, as you have time to schedule that appointment. it changes people's lives. it changes communities. it changes the way we talk about mental health. and you know we were -- as senator stabenow said on the floor, the last 50 years after
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president kennedy signed his last bill into law, now here we are almost 60 years avenue that bill was signed into law -- after that bill was signed into law taking what would be so far the biggest step toward accomplishing what that community mental health act envisioned. and senator stabenow, i'll turn to you for any final comments for both of us. ms. stabenow:i want to say thank you to my friend and partner. i real will i do mean friend and partner. and senator blunt, mr. president, thinks he's retiring. i'm not going to let him. we have really done so much important work together and i'm going to miss him dearly. i'm really seriously figuring out a strategy where we're not going to let you leave the building. so -- but i'm very grateful and again for him for all of the great staff work, and it's at day to feel good about the ability to come together and get something done.
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thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. cardin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, first while senator blunt and senator stabenow are still on the floor, i want to thank both of them for their extraordinary leadership on this mental health issue. i am so pleased that the bipartisan safer communities act includes a robust provisions to deal with community mental health. i work with senator stabenow on the senate finance committee. i know exactly her passion for this issue. we have put together bipartisan working groups that are dealing with a lot of the different issues in regards to mental health. a lot of that has to do with pediatric mental health, which is very much engaged in the bill that we have before us today. and a lot of those provisions have been incorporated into the
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legislation before us. but what you've done on these certified beverly health centers to be able to -- behavioral health centers to be able have the pilot programs, to be able to expand them to more communities, to have a 24/7 facility that's available that's included in this legislation, that's going to make a real difference in people's lives. i just really want to thank both of you for your tremendous contributions on this issue. senator stabenow, i want you to agree -- through the chair, i agree with you with regards to senator blunt. we're going to miss his personal presence here on the united states senate floor, but we know we'll be able to continue having his friendship and council on so much issues -- counsel on so much issues that have affected us. if my friend from kentucky a how me just a few more minutes, i'd like to make a couple comments about the underlying bill. i know that he is scheduled to speak -- if you like, i would --
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after the horrific shootings in uvalde where innocent children were murdered, inaction was not an option. congress had to do something substantive to help stem the epidemic of gun violence. for this reasons, for all the victims of gun violence that may not make the headlines every day, i was proud to vote today in favor of the bipartisan communities safer act african american partisan senate is taking an important step forward to break the decades decade-lon. it strengthens protection for victims of domestic violence by adding domestic violence abusers to background check. it creates funding for states to implement red flag laws which help to keep weapons out of the hands a of dangerous individuals who should not have being a seas to a firearm. it cracks down on criminals who try to evade licensing requirements and makes clear
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which gun sellers need to register, conduct background checks can and keep appropriate records. it strengthens the background check process for those under 21 seeking to buy firearms by ensuring that officials have access to juvenile mental health records. the legislation also provides much-needed mental health resources by providing funding to improve and expand access to mental health. it includes telehealth services for students with medicaid an chip. increasing resorrieses for mental health resources are critical but it is important that we not conflate mental illness and gun violence. i heard senator blunt talk about that. not every instance of gun violence is connected to mental illness. to that end, the covid-19 has made it abun did not lay
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clearwater that our children need additional mental health resorrieses. we must also slug increase the pipeline of individuals willing to serve in those school-based mental health service positions. this legislation addresses that challenge head-on. it provides supplemental funding to both train new student school-based mental health providers and provide students with the specific mental health services they require. while not able to meet the needs of every school currently without counselors or mental health professionals, this bill will make significant strides to ensure that a significantly greater percentage of students have being a seas to mental health services. the legislation we pass in the senate today will save lives and help keep our communities safer. but there are many more reasonable steps we can and should take consistent with the second amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. i will continue to strongly support the establishment of universal background checks for all gun purchases. the banning of assault rivals
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and magazine clips and raise egg the minimum age to 21 in absence of a ban. the senate should also act quickly to confirm the nomination of steven dettelbach to be the director of. the agency has not been a confirmed director since 2018. to that end, mr. president, let me just point out that i am a cosponsor of the background check expansion act which would require checks for all gun sales including those unlicensed sellers, the assault weapons ban act which would ban the sale, manufacturing, transportation of assault rivals, elimination of the charleston loophole. the keep america safe act which prospects the importation, sale, manufacturing, transfer or possession of magazines that hold more than ten rounds of
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ammunition. the bipartisan safer communities act which we request and will pass will save lives but there's still more work that we should do to keep our students and the communities safe. with that, mr. presi the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, i rise to speak in opposition to the bill before us. all too often we very often applaud instinctively the concept of bipartisanship but fail to actually evaluate the policies underlying bipartisan legislation and the effect that our policies may have on law-abiding americans. bipartisan hispanic is a good thing. in fact, bipartisanship is an inevitability in any legislative body that contains multiple parties with significant representation. it certainly is an indisab


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