Gohmert delivers emotional speech on Kari's Law in US House, vote postponed

Gohmert delivers emotional speech on Kari's Law in US House, vote postponed

WASHINGTON D.C. (KLTV) - The U.S House of Representatives postponed a vote on Kari's Law this afternoon but are expected to reschedule it as soon as possible.

The postponement was made due to a lack of quorum, meaning the majority of the representatives were not present. This is a "normal" happening, said an aide in Gohmert's office. Lawmakers will speak in the morning, attend meetings and reconvene in the evening to vote on the days items.

However, it is uncertain if lawmakers will vote today due to legislative activity about the looming government shutdown.

Texas District 1 Representative Louie Gohmert, the sponsor of H.R. 582, said Kari Hunt would have turned 36 years old tomorrow, and became emotional while speaking of how the 911 issue became known after her murder in a Marshall hotel room in 2013.

"Hank [Kari's father] had his little 9-year-old granddaughter in his lap after Kari was pronounced dead and was trying to console her. She was weeping and said to her grandfather, I don't know what happened I kept dialing 911 and nothing ever happened…" Gohmert said, pausing often as his voice broke. "That's when Hank began to look into it, found out the situation, and then, after he brought it to my attention, we got to looking into it …"

Hank Hunt, Kari Hunt's father, promised his granddaughter that what happened to her would never happen to another person. Hunt began a grassroots movement, asking lawmakers to regulate multi-line phone systems and make 911 more accessible.

Several State Representatives spoke in favor of the bill, with several highlighting the need to do more beyond Kari's Law.

"She [Kari's daughter] knew the number to call to save her mother's life, but not to reach an outside line," said Representative Michael Burgess, representing Texas' 26th Congressional District. "This tragedy occurred in Texas, but it could've happened anywhere."

Several members also spoke about the need for additional legislation for improving accuracy location of people calling 911. First responders receive a street address from current 911 calling systems, meaning they do not know where inside a large building -- such as an apartment complex or high rise -- an emergency call is coming from.

Rep. Anna Eshoo of California's 18th District and co-chair of the NextGen 911 caucus, said she introduced an amendment about location accuracy while Kari's Law was in committee but it was rejected. She vowed today to reintroduce it.

"In a single-family home it's easy, but in a large building, first responders have to go floor-by-floor. People are panicked, blinded by what is happening in front of them and can't often say what is in front of them. As we celebrate this legislation, there is a hole in it."

Rep. John Shimkus, representative for the 15th District of Illinois and co-chair of the bipartisan 911 caucus, said as technology advances, emergency systems must advance as well.

H.R. 582 is named for Kari Hunt, a young mother murdered in December 2013 by her estranged husband in a Marshall hotel room. Hunt's daughter, then 9-years-old, tried calling 911 but the call failed to go through because the multi-line system required an extra digit to reach an outside line.

If representatives approve the bill, it will be sent to President Donald Trump.

Kari's Law would amend the Communications Act of 1934 to require businesses using multi-line phone systems to allow for direct dialing of 911 for emergency services. Changes would be required within two years of the date of the bill's enactment. The issue can be resolved through programing, meaning the expense to most businesses is very low, Gohmert said.

The Federal Communications Commission is tasked with enforcement for those failing to comply with the law.

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