House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday chastised Republicans who voted against a bipartisan bill that would create an Amber Alert-like system for active shooter situations.
Late Wednesday, the House voted 260-169 to approve the legislation, with 168 Republicans and one Democrat (Wisconsin Rep. Ron Kind, who is not running for reelection) voting in opposition.
The Active Shooter Alert Act — which was sponsored by Reps. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Fred Upton, R-Mich. — would allow law enforcement to deploy the alert system to notify the public when there is an active shooter threat in schools and community centers.
“If your child were in a school where there was an assault, wouldn’t you want to know? How can these Republicans vote no?” Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill. “These people think their political survival is more important than the survival of our children.”
“One hundred sixty-eight Republicans voted, 'No, we don’t want an Amber Alert if someone is shooting up a school nearby,’” Pelosi added.
Forty-three Republicans and 217 Democrats voted in favor of the measure, which now heads to the Senate.
Its passage comes following a string of recent deadly mass shootings, including the massacres at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, and a parade in Highland Park, Ill., on the Fourth of July.
The suspected gunman in Highland Park was at large for nearly eight hours, and police said he was able to drive to Wisconsin before his arrest near Chicago. In that case, law enforcement could have used the proposed alert system to notify the public of the threat, rather than rely on television and social media.
“We have to give law enforcement every tool they need to neutralize these threats and keep our communities safe,” Cicilline said while introducing the legislation. “This bill helps do that in a simple, effective way.
“Law enforcement deserves better than Twitter to communicate with the community they serve,” he added.
The bill also calls for a Justice Department officer to assume the role of national coordinator of the communications network. That individual, selected by the attorney general, would be responsible for coordinating alerts on federal, state and tribal lands.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, one of the Republicans who voted against the bill, described it as “an unnecessary gimmick to cede more authority to the already highly politicized Biden Department of Justice.”
Jordan argued that federal, state and local officials already use the Integrated Public Alert Warning System, also known as IPAWS, to send emergency alerts to mobile devices.
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, who also voted no, called the bill “another example of Washington creating another department, another position, spending more money we don’t have in order to have a policy objective of continuing to advance fear among the American people.”