HARTFORD, Conn. - Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation announced plans Thursday to try to secure federal funds to help Newtown build a new elementary school after last year's massacre -- and they say senators owe the residents after failing to support legislation that would have expanded background checks for certain gun purchases.
U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, and U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, all Democrats, said they plan to offer legislation in both the Senate and House of Representatives next week that would modify an existing grant that funds mental health counselors and overtime costs after tragedies such as the Dec. 14 shooting.
"This is still largely going to have to be a state and local funding imperative. But we don't want to leave any stone unturned," said Murphy.
Murphy said, "There are a lot of senators that turned their backs on Newtown a month ago when they voted against the background check bill." Voting to amend the School Emergency Response to Violence program "will give some of those senators a second chance to step up to the plate and help the families of Newtown," he said.
Last week, a task force of 28 local elected officials in Newtown voted unanimously in favor of tearing down the Sandy Hook Elementary School and constructing a new building on the same property. Proponents of the idea said building a new school elsewhere would have let the gunman win. Twenty first graders and six educators died in the massacre.
Murphy acknowledged the idea will be "a heavy lift" because the federal government does not fund school construction.
Blumenthal said the new school is estimated to cost $50 million and he believes the federal government should "pay for a very significant share."