In a potential breakthrough bipartisan agreement on gun issues following last week’s horrendous high school mass murder in Parkland, Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo tweeted his support for a bill Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is pushing to renew federal research into gun violence.
The apparent deal was struck via Twitter late Friday and Saturday after U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar signaled his openness to allow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence prevention.
Also, New York Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said, in an interview taped Friday for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” show to be aired Sunday, that he would support lifting the ban on such research by the CDC.
Both Azar and Goodlatte were referring to the so-called “Dickey Amendment,” offered in 1996 by then-U. S. Rep. Jay Dickey, an Arkansas Republican, and approved into law banning CDC research into gun violence.
Late Friday, Curbelo, of Kendall, tweeted “@CDCgov should have never been banned from looking into gun violence as a public health issue. Glad to hear @SecAzar & @RepGoodlatte agree the time has come to end the ban. Let’s get it done.”
Murphy, of Winter Park, responded an hour later, “Agreed, @RepCurbelo. My bill, the Gun Violence Research Act, or HR1478, would permanently repeal the #Dickey Amendment. I would welcome your cosponsorship to make this a bipartisan effort.”
Later Friday, Curbelo’s office replied through his Twitter account: “.@Rep.Curbelo gave up Twitter for Lent, but he’s in! — #TeamCurbelo.
And Murphy finished the exchange Saturday, with, “Thanks @RepCurbelo & #TeamCurbelo for making our bill to repeal the #DickeyAmendment bipartisan. By working together, we can address this very serious public safety crisis and save lives. I’m hopeful more Republicans will join our bipartisan effort. Let’s get this done.”
Both Murphy and Curbelo could use a little bipartisan cred. Both are running for re-election in very tough districts. Murphy’s Florida’s Congressional District 7 leans Republican in voter registration, and Curbelo’s Florida’s 26th Congressional District leans Democrat. Both have significant opposition lining up to take them on in November.
Murphy’s House Resolution 1478 has 122 co-sponsors, all Democrats so far, starting with Orlando U.S. Rep. Val Demings and including all of Florida’s Democratic members of Congress. So Curbelo, if he follows through, would be the first Republican sponsor.
Murphy naturally also would welcome Goodlatte’s cosponsorship, if he commits to follow through on his statement. The bill is not assigned to Goodlatte’s Judiciary Committee, though.
Its only assignment has been to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, and it has not been scheduled for a hearing.