President Biden on Tuesday called for passage of his stalled multi-trillion social spending bill in a video message marking the 9th anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre — highlighting a relatively obscure provision in the bill that he said would prevent additional mass shootings.
“There are three common sense bills to reduce gun violence that the Senate should pass now, right away, long overdue,” Biden said on the anniversary of the slaughter of 20 first-graders and six school staffers in Newtown, Conn.
“One requires more extensive background checks for gun sales. One is to keep guns out of the hands of more abusers,” he said. “[And] my Build Back Better legislation, which would make a landmark $5 billion investment in community violence prevention and intervention programs to support trusted leaders who work directly with people are most likely to commit gun crimes or become gun victims before it’s too late. These programs work.”
The Sandy Hook rampage was committed by mentally ill 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who murdered his mother before using her legally purchased Bushmaster AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle to mow down children, teachers and other staff at the school.
Biden’s novel sales pitch for the stalled bill may be geared toward wooing crucial swing vote Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) who co-authored unsuccessful legislation to impose gun background checks on some non-dealer sales after the massacre.
Biden led a federal gun control task force after the slaughter and also pushed for the background check reform.
Democrats are seeking to pass Biden’s massive legislation this month and the president on Monday called Manchin to negotiate. Democrats can pass the bill without any Republican support using special budget reconciliation rules, but cannot lose a single vote in the evenly divided Senate.
Tuesday was not the first time Biden has co-opted recent tragic events to pitch the spending bill. For example, he has cited recent flooding in New York City and New Jersey to tout $555 billion earmarked for environmental funding.
He’s also cited soaring inflation, which last month hit a 39-year high, despite fears that the bill actually would worsen price increases because the Congressional Budget Office says it’s not fully paid for by new revenue.
Biden argues the plan would lower the cost of living through subsidies for child care and home health care, the establishment of federally funded preschool and an extension of more generous child tax credits. Manchin, however, has repeatedly expressed concern about inflation and what he calls budget “gimmicks” to reduce topline costs.