WASHINGTON. A bipartisan bill aimed at combating the nation’s rampant gun violence took a big step forward on Thursday when the Senate voted 65 to 34 to move it forward and quickly get it signed by President Joe Biden.

That count reflects the support of 15 Republicans, a level of support that suggests he will soon head to the House of Representatives, where the Democratic majority is also expected to accept him.

Senator John Cornyn played a key role in negotiating a package to overcome a 30-year legislative deadlock on gun policy, a breakthrough that came as a direct result of a spate of mass shootings, including the horrific massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, which killed 19 children and two teachers are dead.

Biden issued a statement praising Thursday’s vote, talking about how he visited families in Uvalda and heard a clear signal that something needed to be done.

“With this law, our children in schools and our communities will be safer,” Biden said. “I call on Congress to finish the job and put this bill on my desk.”

The exact timing of a final decision by the Senate may depend on Cornin’s colleague, Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who opposed the bipartisan deal and demanded a vote on his own gun violence proposal.

The two Texans’ plans have significant thematic overlap as they both focus on strengthening school safety and mental health resources, but they also have major differences.

Cornyn’s compromise includes federal funding for statewide red flag laws, increased background checks for those under 21, and stronger gun bans for domestic violence offenders.

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Cruz’s bill contains none of these, but includes bans on a familiar conservative goal known as the Critical Race Theory.

The weeks since Uvalde have confirmed that Cruz and Cornyn are on different political paths, even trying to avoid a direct confrontation with each other.

Cruz is expected to launch another presidential run in 2024, a campaign that will depend heavily on his ability to engage the party’s most ardent supporters and raise large sums of money.

Cornyn is seen as a potential successor to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, a role that involves taking a broader view and balancing competing interests.

While the two men go their separate ways, they avoid directly attacking each other, even as many Republicans criticize Cornyn for working with Democrats on a deal. This month, at the Texas GOP convention, a senior state senator was booed for his stance.

Cruz framed his opposition to the bipartisan deal as a principled stance against gun-grabbing Democrats, despite nearly a third of his fellow Republicans lining up for the bill.

On Thursday, he told reporters that he plans to use all available tools to get his plan voted on.

“We’ll see if the Democrats are willing to advance their political agenda to undermine the rights of law-abiding citizens enshrined in the Second Amendment, or if they’re willing to vote for legislation that actually makes real progress in stopping violent criminals and making kids safer,” Cruz said. said.

Under Republican pressure to support the bill, Cruz said he thought his GOP colleagues were making a “mistake” but did not directly go after Cornyn by name.

Later that day, on the Senate floor, Cornyn again defended the compromise against criticism from the right, noting that he rejected many of the Democrats’ proposals, such as a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

He also highlighted the restrictions on the weapons measures that were included.

Take the red flag laws, which allow courts to take weapons away from those deemed dangerous to themselves or others.

Sure, the bill has the money to support such laws at the state level, but it doesn’t have a national mandate. These dollars come with due process requirements and equal funding for states that take alternative approaches.

Yes, the bill has an extended review period for gun buyers under the age of 21, but this is a temporary measure as they work to ensure that records of minors are fully included in the federal background check system.

Individuals who have committed domestic violence offenses against serious dating partners will face a gun purchase ban, but first-time offenders can regain those rights after five years with no criminal record.

The bottom line, Cornyn said, is that the bill will likely save lives.

“Here so often people do things and say things, not with the intention of actually passing a law, but with the intention of making a political statement, messaging, as it is sometimes called,” Kornin said. “That’s not what we do here. We are not striving for a pose or trying to embarrass anyone. We’re trying to find a solution to a very real problem.”

While Cornyn worked out a compromise with the Senatorial Democrats, Cruz wrote his proposal with another conservative Republican, Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming. Their plan would allocate $17.5 billion to school safety, which Cruz said would double the number of trained school resource specialists.

Another $10 billion will go to grants to hire mental health professionals in K-12 schools. However, to be eligible for these grants, schools must not “teach critical racial theory or include it in any school curriculum.”

This theory is an academic framework that explores how politics and laws support systemic racism, but it’s not taught in K-12 schools, at least not in Texas.

However, conservative pundits have criticized it as divisive, confusing it with general teachings on the importance of diversity and inclusiveness. The inclusion of language on the critical race theory emphasizes that the proposal is better suited to be a political statement than a measure that can be taken.

Cruz’s bill, which has received praise from the NRA, would spend $200 million to improve the background check system and require its records to be audited.

It will increase the punishment for those convicted of stealing from gun dealers and authorize additional funding for federal prosecutors dealing with gun crimes, safe school work groups, and child-resistant gun locks.

When asked about his home-state colleague’s proposal, Cornyn offered no specific criticism of his Texan colleague’s approach, but nodded at the fact that it was unlikely to lead anywhere.

“My question would be, ‘Can this pass?'” Kornin said.

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