Police reform bill: House Democrats pass ‘George Floyd’ legislation despite Trump opposition

The Independent employs journalists from around the world to bring you truly independent journalism. To support us, consider a contribution.

The United States House passed a comprehensive legislative package to reform police surveillance that includes a nationwide ban on strangling arrests and no-hit orders, along with provisions that would facilitate prosecution and sue law enforcement for officer misconduct.

The bill, which passed Thursday in a 236-181 vote on the party line, is expected to languish in the Republican-controlled Senate as divisions between parties persist over how and how much to reform enforcement. of American law.

A leaner police reform bill by Senator Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, failed to reach the 60-vote threshold Wednesday to clear a Democratic filibuster and move to the amendment phase.

The House Democrats’ bill, named after George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis police custody last month sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism, contains a handful of provisions that Donald Trump has ruled out as non-initiators in the negotiations.

On the one hand, it would fundamentally alter the “qualified immunity” laws to make it easier to sue the police and other government agencies for misconduct, a proposal that the Trump administration vehemently opposes.

The Democrats bill would also change the language of section 242 of title 18 of the US Penal Code to facilitate the prosecution of law enforcement officials for misconduct, another element not for the Republicans.

And while the parties have similar proposals to incentivize state and local police departments to prohibit strangulation and do not touch orders for drug cases, they disagree with the various definitions of strangulation maneuvers and whether or not to ban them at the level federal.

The leaders of both parties and chambers have accused their counterparts of allowing the political stance to derail the potential to legislate in good faith.

While Democrats have touted the passage of their bill by major civil rights and social justice groups such as the NAACP, National Action Network, and Urban League, Republicans have complained that they were never consulted on the creation of the bill.

“I contacted those on the Democratic side to explain that I wanted to make the law. I wanted to work together, and I still do, “House of Representatives minority leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday.

But Democrats responded that Republicans have only proposed hollow “half measures”.

“This is not the time for false reform,” Judicial Chamber President Jerry Nadler said Thursday.

“If our Republican colleagues really want to pass bold comprehensive legislation that changes the culture of the police and holds officers accountable, we welcome them to the table.” But we will not accept, and protesters whose energy has fueled a global movement will accept nothing less, “Nadler said.

However, the vast differences in rhetoric between parties paint a bleak picture for the prospect of bipartisan engagement.

“LAW!” the president tweeted a second time in as many days as the debate on police reform continued to shake Capitol Hill.

McCarthy criticized President Nancy Pelosi for “keeping silent about the rioters and criminals who continue to destroy and disfigure the heroes and history of our country, and attack innocent citizens,” claiming that Pelosi “wants to appease the radical left.”

Beneath the icy rhetoric, Republicans and Democrats overlap on some elements of police reform.

Both invoices include:

  • an anti-lynching measure aimed at protecting minorities from hate crimes;
  • provisions to encourage or direct local law enforcement agencies to report incidents of use of force to a centralized national database at the Department of Justice; and
  • incentives for de-escalation and the formation of racial prejudice.

But the window for compromise on police reform may have already passed, with negotiations on the annual defense spending bill starting in earnest in the Senate next week and lawmakers turning their eyes to another round of coronavirus aid. .

“All I can say is that I don’t see a way forward,” Lindsey Graham, president of the Republican Senate judiciary, told reporters this week after the failed Senate procedural vote on police reform this week.

Read more about the dwindling prospects of the two houses and the White House will produce a compromise bill here..