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House Passes Mental Health Bill

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a long-delayed mental health bill that Republicans have cast as their response to recent mass shootings.

The measure from Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), which passed 422-2, had been stalled and mired in controversy for years, but lawmakers in recent months dropped or scaled back many of the most contentious, sweeping measures.

That process has led to a bill that is much more modest than the original plan but that advocates are still praising as a good first step. Democrats stressed that more funding is still needed.

The bill aims to improve the oversight and effectiveness of federal mental health programs and authorizes a range of grants for treatment.

Mental health reform has been a rare area where both parties are looking to enact legislation, but a parallel effort in the Senate has been stalled over gun politics, and it is unclear whether a bill can be signed into law this year.

“Our mental health system in this country is a failure, and this is one of those times when we’re not gathered for a moment of silence, but a time of action,” Murphy said Wednesday.

“We’re here, finally, to speak up for the last, the lost, the least and the lonely. That is those that suffer from mental illness.”

Advocates have in particular pointed to a lack of providers and beds at treatment hospitals for mental illness.

The vote comes in a week when Republicans are responding to a Democratic push to pass gun control legislation. Republicans say mental health reform is a way to prevent mass shootings by mentally ill people.

Read full article here: http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/286705-house-passes-mental-health-bill