WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) have introduced new federal legislation that would authorize federal funds to assist with the construction of a new Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The legislation, S.1025 in the Senate and H.R. 2102 in the House, is titled the Helping Communities Rebuild After Deadly School Shootings and Other Traumatic Events Act. Every member of Connecticut’s congressional delegation has signed on to the bill as original co-sponsors.

Since that terrible morning in December, the families of the victims and the entire Newtown community have been tested to the very limits of human grief,” said Murphy. “And through the pain and suffering, Newtown has come together to heal, and America has been behind this community the whole way. So when a major tragedy like this occurs, we feel a responsibility as a country to help. I hope that our colleagues in Congress will agree that the little boys and girls at Sandy Hook Elementary shouldn’t be asked to walk the same halls where their classmates were slaughtered.”

This bill enables my colleagues to put their money where their mouths have been. I can’t tell you how many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have said in regard to the tragedy in Newtown, ‘What can I do to help?’ For those of my colleagues who asked me this but failed to vote for common sense gun violence prevention measures in March, this bill gives them the opportunity to make a down payment – not a full payment – but a down payment on their obligation to respond adequately to the Sandy Hook horror,” Blumenthal said. “Students at Sandy Hook Elementary School should not be forced to relive this tragedy in a schoolhouse marred with slaughter.”  

During my visits to Newtown, I’ve been reminded again and again of the tremendous sense of love and support that defines the people of that community,” Esty said. “The painful loss of their sons and daughters, spouses, siblings, and friends is still very raw and will always run very deep for the people of Newtown. This tragedy has touched people on a national scale, and as a nation, we have an obligation to make sure that this community and that the children who attend Sandy Hook Elementary have the support they need to heal and continue their lives.” 

The legislation introduced by Murphy, Blumenthal, and Esty would authorize schools to apply for funding through the existing School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant program for site construction in the wake of mass tragedies, and allow for federal assistance to Sandy Hook Elementary School for its recently approved reconstruction project. 

Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the SERV grant provides federal assistance to communities after traumatic violent events. While this grant program already provides much-needed funds for mental health counseling and other assistance, current law prohibits the SERV grant from being used for building construction.