Senate panel votes to approve bill to fund gun control, health care

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A Senate panel on Tuesday voted unanimously to pass a bill that would fund gun safety measures and improve health care access for millions of Americans, as well as allow states to use federal money for new gun violence prevention programs.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee voted 11-4 along party lines to approve the proposal, which is part of a larger bill that the panel is expected to vote on as soon as Wednesday.

Democrats had demanded that the measure include a ban on bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic rifles to fire up to 100 times faster than a semi-auto handgun.

Republicans had opposed that measure and vowed to use the appropriations process to override President Barack Obama’s veto of the legislation.

The bill also would expand eligibility for health insurance for low-income people and extend the Medicaid expansion for low income people.

The measure, which would also allow states, the federal government, and other states to expand Medicaid, has the support of the National Rifle Association and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

But Democrats are threatening to oppose it and Republicans are threatening not to proceed with the bill.GOP lawmakers, who control both the House and Senate, voted Tuesday to advance the measure, and GOP Sens.

Rob Portman of Ohio and John McCain of Arizona said in a statement that the bill was a step in the right direction, but that they would continue to work to defeat any effort to expand gun rights.

The legislation also would allow states that have adopted stricter gun laws to require background checks for gun sales.

The vote comes as the Senate prepares to vote later this week on a bipartisan gun control bill, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said could be voted on this week.

That bill would restrict guns from sale to anyone who has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence charge.

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