Connecticut lawmakers seek federal funds to rebuild Sandy Hook Elementary school

Washington –- Saying children should not have to walk down the halls where their classmates were slaughtered, Connecticut lawmakers introduced bills in Congress Thursday that would secure federal funds to build a new Sandy Hook Elementary School

Last week, town leaders in Newtown voted to tear down the existing facility and build a new one in its place. The cost, they said, could reach $60 million.

“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,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

Murphy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., introduced the Sandy Hook school legislation in the Senate. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, who represents Newtown, introduced the bill in the House.

They said their congressional colleagues owed the people of Newtown some help.

“This bill enables my colleagues to put their money where their mouths have been,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “For those of my colleagues …[who]  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.”

The Connecticut lawmakers want to tap money in a Department of Education program that federal assistance to communities after traumatic violent events, such as mental health counseling.

Their bill would eliminate the provision that prevents School Emergency Response to Violence grants from being used for building construction.

Currently, most SERV grants are in the thousands of dollars, not millions of dollars.

In addition, funding for the SERV program would have to increase dramatically. In his latest budget request, President Obama has asked for only $5 million for the program.