Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Barrasso (R-WY) announced on Thursday that they have introduced a bill to use $38 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to expand school security measures that include adding more School Resource Officers and fund mental health professionals on campuses nationwide.

The measure comes as a response to recent violence on school campuses, including the recent shooting deaths of 21 people at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

“There have been far too many school shootings in this country, and it is past time for Congress to do something to address this problem,” Cruz said in a statement.

“Our Safe Kids, Safe Schools, Safe Communities Act would focus on making schools safer by increasing the number of properly trained school resource officers on campus who can deter and, if necessary, stop school shooters before our kids are harmed, increasing the number of school mental health professionals who can identify at-risk children and ensure those kids get the help they need before they become violent, and providing funding to improve the physical security measures for schools,” he continued.

School resource officers first became popular on campuses in the 1990s in response to increased attention on violence in schools, primarily in the wake of the Columbine High School massacre.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 46.7% of public schools employed a sworn law enforcement officer during the 2017-18 school year, the most recent year that records are available.

The Act will apply $200 million toward improving the National Instant Criminal Background Check system, while an additional $150 million will be used to hire federal prosecutors to enforce existing laws.

An additional $29 million will fund a safe schools task force, while $75 million will fund child-safety gun locks for handguns.

A total of $17.5 billion in American Rescue Plan funding would go toward providing school resource officers, while $10 billion would pay for in-school mental health professionals.

“We all want to help prevent tragedies like what we saw in Uvalde. My focus has always been on mental health and increasing school safety,” Barrasso said in a statement. “This is exactly what Senator Cruz and I focus on with our Safe Kids, Safe Schools, Safe Communities Act. Our legislation will make a difference by securing schools and providing mental health professionals to identify and address the behavioral health needs of our students. This is an opportunity for Congress to take meaningful action to make our communities safer while always protecting the constitutional rights of Americans.”

Not everyone believes that the use of funds for on-campus police is effective or appropriate.

In a 2021 report, the Washington ACLU claimed that school resource officers have had “no effect” on school shootings and have instead allegedly sowed seeds of distrust for law enforcement by criminalizing young people.

According to the ACLU, schools with on-campus officers saw increases in arrests, often for minor offenses.

The role and response of school resource officers have been at the center of the ongoing discussion about how the Uvalde shooting unfolded.

Uvalde had officers on campus, but they did not prevent the shooter from gaining access to the school, nor did they stop the individual once the shooting began.