Five years after one of the worst mass shootings ever, is a memorial site the way to commemorate the attack?
The gunman, who was radicalized over the internet and pledged allegiance to ISIS, was shot and killed by police. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. It’s now the second-deadliest, behind 2017’s attack at a Las Vegas country music concert.
What the law does
The House version of the legislation was introduced on January 4 by Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL9) — who actually represents the next district over from Pulse, though the representative for Pulse’s location, Rep. Val Demings (D-FL10), also signed on as a cosponsor.
The Senate version was introduced several months later on May 13 by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), though it was the House version which technically passed into law.
What supporters say
Supporters argue that a national memorial is the best way to commemorate the tragedy, in the hopes that it never happens again.
“Though the pain and helplessness tied to the memories of that night and the weeks following will never subside, it is our responsibility to ensure that those we lost are remembered for the fruitful lives they led during their time here on Earth,” Rep. Soto said in a press release. “It is comforting to know that we will now have a national platform to showcase the impacts they had on their loved ones and our community.”
“Today, we still stand strong, together, to remember the 49 young lives lost that tragic day and honor their memory with passage of our resolution and our bill to establish the National Pulse Memorial,” Sen. Scott said in a separate press release. “It is my hope that this memorial will forever serve as a tribute to the victims and a reminder for us all to always stand for love and kindness over hate and evil in this world.”
GovTrack Insider was unable to locate any explicit statements of opposition to this legislation. There has been opposition raised to the specific design currently slated for the memorial, but that’s different from opposing this legislation which merely designates the site.
A prior House version passed the chamber in June 2020 by voice vote, a measure used for relatively noncontroversial legislation with no major opposition, in which no record of individual votes is recorded. However, it never received a vote in the then-Republican controlled Senate.
The current House version attracted 19 bipartisan cosponsors: 17 Democrats and two Republicans. It again passed the chamber by voice vote on May 12.
The Senate version attracted two bipartisan cosponsors: one Democrat and one Republican. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent, their version of the House’s voice vote in which no record of individual votes is recorded, on June 9.
President Biden signed it into law on June 25.
“We have to — what we’re going to do is what the members of Congress here did, and enshrine in law — as a consequence of that law, enshrine, in perpetuity, literally a monument to the loss that occurred there,” Biden said in remarks at the signing ceremony, “and an absolute determination that we’re going to deal with this every single, solitary day and make sure that we’re not in a position to see this happen again.”