Washington – The House passed two progressive agenda items on Wednesday evening, moving forward with top legislative priorities, even though the bills have an uncertain future in the Senate.
The House approved HR 1, a sweeping government and electoral reform bill, by a vote of 220 to 210. It also approved the George Floyd Law on Law Enforcement Justice by a vote of 220 to 212, Democrats Jared Golden and Ron Kind joining all Republicans in voting against the bill. Republican Congressman Lance Gooden from Texas voted for the bill, but later tweeted that he did it by mistake.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is named after the Minnesota man wholast year, after an officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, causing a against racial violence and police brutality during the summer. The legislation, led by Congresswoman Karen Bass, prohibits chokeholds and no-go warrants in drug cases and reforms qualified immunity, making it easier to prosecute police officers in civilian courts.
Other provisions of the House bill include encouraging state attorneys general to investigate local police departments and providing grants to states to create death investigation procedures. related to the police. The legislation attempts to improve transparency by creating a national police misconduct registry and requiring national and local authorities to provide data on the use of force disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion and age. The bill further seeks to address cultural bias in police stations by making racial bias training mandatory and would also change the standard for assessing whether the use of force was justified.
The law projectin June 2020, Republicans Brian Fitzpatrick and Fred Upton joining all Democrats in supporting the bill. Fitzpatrick and Upton voted against the bill on Wednesday night.
Floyd’s family was at the Capitol Wednesday evening for debate and final vote on the bill. Lawyers for the Floyd family, Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci and L. Chris Stewart, said in a statement that the bill “represents a major step forward in reforming the relationship between the police and communities of color and imposing accountability on law enforcement officers whose conscious decisions save the lives or kill Americans, including so many people of color. “
“We are now urging the Senate to follow suit and send this important legislation to President Biden,” the lawyers said.
A police reform bill was proposed by Republican Senator Tim Scott in the Senate last year, but it was blocked by Democrats who argued it did not go far enough. While the two bills have many similarities, they differ when it comes to qualified immunity protections for law enforcement officers. Republicans argue that revising qualified immunity would harm law enforcement officers acting in good faith, as it would make it easier to prosecute them.
The Senate bill would require increased use of force reporting and interdiction warrants, provide subsidies for law enforcement to be equipped with body cameras, and require ministries to retain and to share the disciplinary files of the agents. Scott told reporters earlier this week he had had an initial conversation with Bass about their police reform bills, and said Thursday he spoke to Sen. Cory Booker about a plan Senate bill last weekend.
“It just depends on their definition of bipartisanship,” Scott said, when asked if a compromise was possible.
Although the vote on the law enforcement justice law was originally scheduled for Thursday, it has been moved due to. Two House sources confirmed to CBS News that there were talks about increasing House votes due to the threat. The United States Capitol Police “have received new and worrying information and intelligence indicating additional interest in the Capitol for the March 4-6 dates from a group of militiamen,” Staff Sgt. House weapons in a bulletin.
Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman told lawmakers at a hearing Wednesday that “we have information about it” and “we have improved our security posture.” Concerns for the safety of lawmakers come after, with several rioters seeking to harm or even assassinate lawmakers.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer released an updated schedule indicating that the House would vote on George Floyd’s measure on Wednesday night instead of Thursday, allowing the House to wrap up its work week one more day early and not to sit on Thursday.
Similar to the Police Justice Act, the House had already passed an electoral reform bill in the last Congress after Democrats regained a majority, but neither was considered in the controlled Senate. by Republicans. Democrats now have a slim 50-seat majority in the Senate, but most laws require 60 votes to move forward. The bills are unlikely to win the support of ten Republican senators, so their.
HR 1, known as the “For the People Act,” would revise laws on government ethics and campaign finance, and seek to strengthen voting rights by creating automatic voter registration and expanding the access to early and absent voting. The vote on the bill comes as Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country, including measures to limit postal voting and impose stricter voter identification requirements.
“We believe HR 1 must pass because lawmakers in Republican states, concerned about their losses, whether in their own state or in the country, are redoubling their efforts to make voting more difficult for people,” said Steny, House Majority Leader. Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday.
The Supreme Court, which has a Conservative 6-3 majority, is alsothat restrict access to the vote, which Democrats say disproportionately affects minority voters. If the court upholds these laws, it could allow legislatures to impose even more restrictive voting laws and a higher standard on litigants seeking to challenge them.
Progressives argued that the Senate should eliminate filibustering, which would allow legislation to advance by simple majority, in order to push through their key priorities. Some Democrats argue it’s important to remove filibuster, especially so that voting rights laws can be passed, such as the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would reinstate the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 overturned by the Supreme Court. Former President Barack Obamaso the voting rights laws can be passed by the Senate during its eulogy at Lewis’s funeral last summer.
Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock has suggested there may be a limited exception to the filibuster rules for voting and civil rights related bills. Warnock was elected to represent Georgia in a January special election, and the Republican-controlled state legislature recently introduced bills to make early voting and postal voting more difficult.
“The right to vote preserves all other rights, and we must do all we can to preserve the voice of the people in our democracy,” Warnock told reporters Tuesday. “I think the issues are urgent enough to leave all options on the table.”
However, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have expressed their opposition to the elimination of filibuster. Manchin said on Monday he would “never” change his mind about ending the filibuster.
“Never! Jesus Christ! What do you never understand?” Manchin said.
Nikole Killion and Brian Dakss contributed to this report.