House passes sweeping police reform bill


The bill would crack down on extreme police power and ban chokeholds, implement nationwide transparency requirements and push accountability for officer misconduct with a nationwide database to trace offenses.

“To the protesters: we hear you, we see you, we are you,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) stated in an impassioned speech on the ground simply earlier than the vote.

Jeffries, one of the senior Black members in Congress, stated he first discovered of Floyd’s loss of life from his younger son, who instructed him, “‘Dad, it’s happened again. What are you going to do about it?’”

“I say to him, and I say to all those other Black children throughout America: We are here today as House Democrats to do something about it,” Jeffries stated.

The three Republicans who in the end supported the bill defied direct directions from the White House to oppose it, handing a minor victory to Democrats, who can now say they handed a bipartisan police reform bill. Still, Democrats’ success probably ends there as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled he is not going to take up the package deal, leaving nearly no hope it is going to grow to be regulation.

“Exactly one month ago George Floyd spoke his final words, ‘I can’t breathe,’ and changed the course of history,” Pelosi stated on the steps of the Capitol earlier than the vote. “When we pass this bill, the Senate will have a choice: to honor George Floyd’s life or to do nothing.”

Thursday’s vote comes in the future after the Senate didn’t advance a narrower policing bill — leaving the 2 chambers at a stalemate even because the nation faces a looking on race and police brutality.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the Senate’s solely Black Republican, was the lead creator of the Senate’s police reform bill. But many Democrats dismissed the laws, calling it a “sham” that solely paid lip service to the systematic modifications they are saying have to happen.

“The Senate bill is [a] sham, fake reform,” stated House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) alongside Pelosi. “It gestures, using some of the same words, but it does nothing real.”

Other Democrats, like Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, a former CBC chairman, have been barely gentler of their criticism.

“I have a lot of respect and admiration for Tim Scott … and so I believe that he tried to get as good a bill as he thought he could get with the Republican-led Senate,” Cleaver stated in an interview.

“I think he did the best that he could with the Republican legislature,” he added. “I just don’t think many people in the Senate quite understand the magnitude of this time.”

But Democrats, notably senior members of the CBC, say the passage of their bill is a monumental step ahead for a Congress that has allowed laws to ban chokeholds or demilitarize the police to languish for years. In one signal of the enormity of the second, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) — who represents Minneapolis, together with the block the place Floyd died after a police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes — presided over the House flooring earlier within the day.

“Thank God for the activists. Thank God for the screaming from the streets that has awoken a lot of people to how the severe disregard for life and racism has been playing out every day in America,” Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) stated in an interview. “We need transformational change.”

The House bill has received endorsements from a slew of distinguished advocacy teams, from the NAACP to the AFL-CIO to the American College of Physicians. An extended listing of leisure business celebrities have signaled help as properly, from Lizzo to Justin Bieber to Ariana Grande. On Thursday, the measure additionally earned backing from one other set of highly effective voices: the dad and mom of African Americans killed by police.

“The unjust killing of a liked one, particularly by the hands of regulation enforcement, is a ache too many households have been pressured to endure,” stated Gwen Carr, John Crawford Jr. and Samaria Rice — the dad and mom of Eric Garner, John Crawford III and Tamir Rice, respectively.

Backers of the bill famous that Rice would have turned 18 on Thursday. “We are proud to help this effort as a result of it’s the proper factor to do.”

Some Democrats and Republicans had initially hoped to ship laws to President Donald Trump’s desk earlier than the July Fourth vacation — a situation that’s now unlikely.

Democrats have refused to reduce the central elements of their bill, corresponding to banning chokeholds or abolishing the “qualified immunity” doctrine that protects police officers from lawsuits. Republicans, in the meantime, have stated they may merely transfer on to the remainder of their summer time agenda till Democrats sign a willingness to again down on a few of these parts.

Several Democrats had been quietly working with reasonable Republicans like Hurd, Upton and Fitzpatrick in the previous few weeks in a behind-the-scenes effort to garner their help for the bill.

Still, most Republicans voted towards the policing bill with a number of citing one main problem as the first motive for the stalemate: whether or not police must be held personally answerable for misconduct on the job. Trump additionally publicly urged GOP lawmakers to oppose the bill, and few within the social gathering are desperate to cross him.

Within the Democratic Caucus, the package deal bumped into remarkably little resistance, which has traditionally confronted some inner divisions between its reasonable and progressive factions. Some

Democrats in swing districts had initially been hesitant to help the bill for concern of blowback from highly effective police unions, however all supported the bill in the long run.

“The people in the streets are saying, ‘We are not going to go away, this issue is not going to fade,’” Rep. Greg Meeks (D-N.Y.) stated in an interview.

“I think our moment is going to continue, like I said,” he added. “If the Senate refuses to negotiate, that will reverberate against them, I believe, in the November elections.”

Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.


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