Momentum around mental-health reform is building in Congress and gathering bipartisan support as a response to mass violence and the reality that gun control is a nonstarter.
On Wednesday, Sens. Bill Cassidy and Chris Murphy introduced a new bill outlining a comprehensive set of reforms of the mental-health system. Thursday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will mark up Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray's mental-health bill. In the House, Rep. Tim Murphy is campaigning harder than ever for action on his reform legislation while Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton has said the committee will take up mental-health reform in the fall.
Recent headline acts of violence seem to have provided incentive for Congress as a whole to examine the topic.
"You should reform the mental-health system because it's broken. You shouldn't reform the mental-health system only because you think it's a response to gun violence. And so I've been a proponent of reforming our mental-health system for a long time," Sen. Murphy said in an interview.
"I'm sorry the reason that we're seriously entertaining it is because these increasing episodes of mass violence, but the reality is, if you have a political opportunity to do something good, you take it," he said. "And I think we have a growing consensus that Congress can't stand silent, completely silent, in the wake of these shootings."