WASHINGTON — The House overwhelmingly approved a bill to improve school safety Wednesday, the first gun-related action by Congress since the shooting that left 17 dead at a Florida high school.
The bill authorizes $500 million over 10 years for grants to improve training and coordination between schools and local law enforcement and help identify signs of potential violence before they occur.
Lawmakers approved the bill, 407-10. It now goes to the Senate, where a similar measure is being considered.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the bill "provides a multi-layered approach" to identify threats so authorities can stop violence before it occurs.
"Tragic violence has no place in our schools. Every American believes that,'" Ryan said. "This legislation will actually take concrete action to prevent that."
The vote came as the FBI announced it is doubling the number of supervisors assigned to review tips received from the public about possible threats of mass shootings or other violence.
Deputy FBI Director David Bowdich told a Senate committee that the agency "could have and should have done more" to investigate information it received prior to the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The FBI received at least two credible tips that the suspect in the Florida school shooting had a "desire to kill" and access to guns and could be plotting an attack, but agents failed to investigate.
"While we will never know if any such investigative activity would have prevented this tragedy, we clearly should have done more," Bowdich told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Senate panel was considering a similar proposal to improve school safety, but a hearing Wednesday focused on law enforcement failures in Florida. Besides the FBI lapses, Broward County, Florida Sheriff Scott Israel has said his office received more than 20 calls about accused gunman Nikolas Cruz in the past few years
Sen. Charles Grassley, the Republican chairman of the committee, noted that Israel declined an invitation to testify Wednesday, as did Michael Carroll, secretary of Florida's Department of Children and Families.
"By thumbing their noses at Congress, Sheriff Israel and Secretary Carroll have let the American people down and also the citizens of Florida they serve," said Grassley, R-Iowa.
Some Democratic lawmakers sought to expand the focus to include gun control. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said more and more families are being victimized by mass shootings since a ban on certain semi-automatic weapons she authored expired in 2004.
"This Congress cannot continue to do nothing, because nothing means more lives are lost, including the youngest and the most vulnerable among us," said Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary panel. "High school students are literally begging us to take action to get these guns off the streets and out of our schools."
As Feinstein spoke, hundreds of students were rallying outside the Capitol to urge stricter gun control laws. The rally was part of a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence following the Florida attack. A larger rally is planned March 24.
Chloe Appel, 15, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, held a sign that said, "Fix this before I text my mom from under a desk." The high school student said she's hopeful that Congress will enact gun control laws.
"After today and after the next protest Congress will see how many people feel strongly about this so they will have to make a change," she said.