The Senate agreed Thursday to tack a bipartisan mental health measure onto gun control legislation — but the measure is more modest than advocates had sought, and the underlying gun bill has already been effectively derailed, at least for the time being.
The vote on the mental health amendment offered by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) was 95-2, with Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah opposing. But it came a day after the Senate rejected broader background checks on gun purchases, prompting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to suspend further votes on amendments to the bill.
And even if the mental health package becomes law at some point, it’s more of a messaging vehicle than the sweeping expansion of mental health services that was first broached after the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.