WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (PA-04), member of the House Judiciary Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement on her vote for H.Res. 1061:

“Today, I voted for a package of bills to fulfill our duty to fund the government. Unfortunately, a Republican Senator chose to include a “poison pill” amendment to blatantly undermine our background check system—endangering the lives of veterans struggling with mental health.

To vote no on this bill would be to vote no on funding for more than 10 federal programs, like WIC, SNAP, and public housing programs like section 8. If we fail to fund these agencies, crucial services will stall, hurting taxpayers and communities who rely on these federal services. 

But I cannot in good conscience allow this to pass with my vote without also clearly spreading awareness of the harm caused by Republicans in a short-sighted attempt to bolster gun ownership rights. 

As of now, if a veteran is deemed mentally incompetent, they are reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and thus unable to legally purchase a firearm. The amendment proposed by Senator Kennedy, and ultimately included in the series of six funding bills brought to the House, would strip away this safeguard.

Importantly, it would still be illegal for these veterans to buy or own a firearm, the system would just no longer flag this for gun shops—leading to potentially illegal sales.

In 2021, 6,392 Veterans died by suicide. Thousands of lives lost—men and women who sacrificed everything for our country gone. We must do everything we can to protect them once they come home. This amendment does the opposite, jeopardizing the safety of veterans, as well as their communities. 

It is unconscionable for someone, at the behest of the gun lobby, to force this measure through the budget. And I am deeply disappointed it worked.

I am, however, encouraged by the reauthorization of the Undetectable Firearms Act, another public safety essential that outlaws the purchases of firearms made with less than 3.7 ounces of stainless steel and therefore undetectable by metal detectors. 

I will not rest until our background check system is strengthened—for the sake of our children, our veterans, and our communities.”

Rep. Madeleine Dean is a mother, grandmother, attorney, professor, former four-term member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and U.S. Representative for the Fourth District of Pennsylvania.