Nancy Pelosi is preparing to pass her party’s police reform legislation in the House Thursday after Democrats were able to block the Republican version of the bill in the Senate the day before – claiming it didn’t go far enough and could not be ‘rectified.’
The White House has been urging House Republicans to vote against the bill, even though the Democrat-controlled chamber does not need one GOPer to cross party lines in order to get the bill passed.
There are currently 233 Democrats in the lower chamber, which is more than enough of a lead to pass legislation without a single vote from the 197 House Republicans.
President Donald Trump has been pushing for Congress to pass a police reform bill, claiming it would go further and expand on his policing executive order that he signed in the Rose Garden earlier this month.
House Speaker Pelosi will hold a press conference regarding the bill at 10:00 am on Capitol Hill ahead of the vote on the package.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bring Democrats’ police reform bill to the floor for a vote Thursday as the party prepares to pass their version of the legislation
Pelosi claimed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was trying to ‘get away with murder’ by bringing the Senate Republican bill to the floor Wednesday
Democrats successfully blocked the Republicans’ bill, as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said there was ‘no conceivable way to rectify all of its many problems’ – citing civil rights groups that came out against the legislation
WHAT’S IN DEMOCRAT’S POLICE REFORM BILL?
– A ban on choke holds or carotid holds
George Floyd died after cop Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck, and Eric Garner died in 2014 in New York after he was put in a choke hold
– A National Misconduct Registry, which would track and create a database of police officers who have been accused of misconduct
The registry, Democrats claim, would prevent officers found guilty of misconduct from transferring from one department to another
– The abolition of no-knock warrants in drug cases so police officers will have to identify themselves before entering a home
Breonna Taylor was killed in her home after she was shot eight times while police carried out a no-knock warrant in conjunction with a drug investigation involving her boyfriend
– Implementation of the nationwide use of body cameras by all police
Body camera footage can be used to confirm the facts of a case, especially when there is no bystander footage
– Civilian review boards for law enforcement officers
This would make police more personally accountable to the community they serve
– The abolition of qualified immunity, a doctrine that protects law enforcement from civil litigation – and could lead to an increase in cops being sued
Police could face more lawsuits over brutality
– Would classify lynching as a federal crime
Democrats bashed Republicans for blocking legislation just last week that would make lynching a crime
– Change the federal standard of criminal police behavior from acting ‘willfully’ to acting ‘knowingly or with reckless disregard’
This language would levy cops with more responsibility, noting that they acting knowing they were ignoring standards or acting ‘recklessly’
– Condition state and local funding on police receiving training on racial and implicit bias at the federal level
Funds will be held from state and local police departments who do not require officers receive racial bias training
– Stop the transfer of military-grade weapons to police
– Gives the Justice Department subpoena power to carry out ‘pattern and practice’ investigations into police department conduct and provides state attorneys general with grants to carry out these probes
Although Democrats initially signaled they were on board with voting to bring the Republican bill up for debate in the Senate, they changed their tune just 48 hours before it hit the floor and were able to successfully block the legislation moving forward.
They referencing civil rights groups that came out against it.
Democrats proposed their own sweeping policing bill earlier this month in response to nationwide protests calling for reforms to law enforcements.
Among mounting pressure to get legislation passed before the Fourth of July, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rushed a Republican version to the floor on Wednesday – and claimed Democratic reasoning for voting against the bill was ‘almost nonsensical.’
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer claimed during Senate floor remarks ahead of the vote on Wednesday that ‘there is no conceivable way to rectify all of its many problems.’
“It’s not realistic we can fix this bill, even with a series of amendments,” the New York Democrat asserted.
The Party claimed the legislation did not go far enough, specifically referencing that it did not include an overarching ban on police use of chokeholds – a measure their bill spells out.
The 55-45 Senate vote was mostly along party lines, with two Democrats crossing the aisle.
Republicans, however, were unable to earn the 60 votes needed to begin negotiations on their police reform bill – as they only hold 53 seats in the upper chamber, and needed at least seven Democrats to cross party lines to put it up for debate.
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a centrist from West Virginia, was one of the Democrats that voted with Republicans, telling reporters at the Capitol that he wanted to give McConnell the chance to ‘keep his word’ on allowing amendments.
McConnell urged in pre-vote remarks that by passing the bill onto the negotiating stage ‘was supposed to bring progress’ in reforming law enforcement and improving relations between the black community and police.
Schumer initially was prepared to move forward with debating the bill, but civil rights groups and activists, including the lawyer for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, asserted the Republican piece legislation was unacceptable.
‘Who do you believe, America – Civil Rights conference, or Mitch McConnell? Who do you believe, America – NAACP or the Republican Caucus? The lawyer for the Floyd and Taylor families, or Donald Trump?’ Schumer posed from the Senate floor.
Democrats assert the bill does not go far enough, as they demand a full ban on chokeholds, among other measures.
Pelosi claimed that if Democrats allowed the current version of the bill to pass in the Senate, it would be like allowing Republicans to ‘get away with murder.’
McConnell called the California Democrat’s comment on Wednesday ‘jaw-dropping’ and ‘unhinged.’
‘For something to happen, they’re going to have to face the realities of police brutalities, the realities of the need for justice in policing, and the recognition that there’s many good people in law enforcement, but not all. And that we have to address those concerns,’ Pelosi told CBS News Radio correspondent Steve Futterman on Tuesday.
‘So, when they admit that, and have some suggestions that are worthy of consideration – but so far they were trying to get away with murder, actually – the murder of George Floyd,’ the California Democrat asserted.
The effort from both Republicans and Democrats to get legislation passed comes as protests have rocked the nation for a month following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer
WHAT’S IN SENATE REPUBLICANS’ POLICE REFORM BILL
– No federal funds for forces which allow chokeholds – but no outright ban on their use
– No-knock warrants like the one which ended in Breonna Taylor’s death have to be reported but are not banned
– Up to 20-year sentences for cops who falsify reports in civil rights investigations
– $100 million for more forces to use body cameras. Police departments where officers don’t turn on body cameras during arrests or stops will lose federal cash
– Departments ordered to check recruits’ backgrounds for allegations of brutality or abuse and keep their own records for 30 years or lose federal cash
– Cash for de-escalation training, and national standards on it
– All cops to be trained to intervene when they see another officer ‘cross the line’
– Cash to hire recruiters to make forces reflect areas they serve
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
– Make lynching a federal crime (this is currently being blocked in the Senate by Rand Paul after passing the House)
– Set up 9/11-style National Criminal Justice Commission with 18 months to produce report on how to make justice system equal at federal, state and local levels. Among areas it will study: police recruitment, discipline and firing; setting up use of force review boards in every state; and dealing with mental health problems
– Set up a bipartisan Commission on the Status of Black Men and Boys which will report annually
– National Museum of African American History will produce education program on history of racism in the U.S. for law enforcement bodies
In a letter to McConnell on Tuesday, which Schumer asked to be admitted to the record on Wednesday, a group of top Democrats called the GOP bill ‘threadbare’ and ‘lacks substance.’
However, Schumer along with Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, who co-authored the Democratic version of the policing bill, said in the letter that the GOP legislation has passed the point of being fixed, as they claim it doesn’t go far enough.
‘This bill is not salvageable and we need bipartisan talks to get to a constructive starting point,’ they wrote.
The letter from Democrats to McConnell comes after the lawyer for Floyd’s family, Benjamin Crump, spoke out against the Republican bill.
Crump also represents Breonna Taylor’s family after she and Floyd’s deaths following police interactions led to nationwide protests related to relations between the black community and law enforcement.
‘The Black community is tired of the lip service,’ Crump said in a statement.
He continued of the Republican package that it is ‘in direct contrast to the demands of the people, who have taken to the streets, to call for the reallocation of resources in order to improve social safety nets and public mental health programs.’
Sole black Republican Senator Tim Scott authored the GOP legislation.
‘I respect people that I disagree with. They have the right to disagree. My pastor tells me I have the right to be wrong,’ Scott said before senators voted on the bill.
The South Carolina senator added: ‘But on this one, if you don’t think we’re right, make it better. Don’t walk away. Vote for the motion to proceed so we have the opportunity to deal with this really real threat.’
Democrats claim they did not have any input in the bill, and assert it be more bipartisan by allowing for a co-sponsored from their Party.
Their version of the bill, proposed in the Democrat-controlled House, would do a sweeping ban on chokeholds, prohibit no-knock warrants and make it easier to sue law enforcement for using excessive force.
Democrats also claimed in blocking the bill that McConnell was not prepared to negotiate on additional measures or those already included and would not make a commitment on allowing amendments by the opposing party.
Notably, the Republican version of the legislation includes a stipulation where police officers can only use a chokehold when their life is threatened, while Democrats want a more sweeping ban on the move.
Democrats wanted more assurances from McConnell that there will be concessions made on the side of Republicans before they were willing to bring the bill up for debate.
‘If nothing changes, I’m voting,’ Senator Jon Tester, a centrist, said earlier this week. ‘I need some assurances that we’re going to vote on amendments that will fix this bill. And it needs a lot of fixing.’
‘I’m not going to vote on a half-a** bill,’ Hawaii Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono said.
Minority Whip Dick Durbin insisted the effort needed to be bipartisan, telling reporters at the Capitol Monday there isn’t any ‘clarity’ on what McConnell is offering to appease Democrats.
‘There’s no clarity in what we’re being offered by Sen. McConnell,’ Senator Durbin said. ‘I’ve faced similar Sen. McConnell offers in the past, on [coronavirus legislation], and the best thing that happened is we didn’t accept his offer. We demanded a bipartisan approach.’
Democrats want McConnell to commit to a set number of amendments the party would get to propose if they agreed to take the bill to the floor for debate – but Republicans are making no such commitment.
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the sole black Republican in the Senate, authored the GOP legislation
Pelosi unveiled the Democrats’ version of a police reform bill earlier this month amid the riots and protests following the death of George Floyd.
The California Democrat previously indicated she wants the Senate to take up the bill so both chambers can begin formal negotiations.
Many Senate Democrats revealed Monday night that they were being pressured by several progressive organizations, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, to oppose the bill.
Republican lawmakers and the White House are ready to pass a bill, as Donald Trump urged earlier this month that he would work with Congress to get police reform legislation passed and signed.
The president claimed, while signing a policing executive order, that Congress would need to pass a bill to expand on the programs he established.
Democrats presented their police reform bill before Trump signed his executive order – but Republicans are preparing to blame the opposing party for blocking police reform legislation.
The House will vote Thursday on its sweeping police bill, of which a dozen or so Republicans could vote in favor.
Donald Trump and Senate Republicans want nothing to do with the House policing overhaul.