The House on Wednesday passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, an expansive policing overhaul measure named for the 46-year-old Black man who died last Memorial Day after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against his neck for over nine minutes.
The bill passed 220 to 212 along mostly party lines, with two Democrats, Reps. Jared Golden (Maine) and Ron Kind (Wis.), voting against it, and one Republican, Rep. Lance Gooden (Tex.), accidentally voting for it.
Soon after the vote, Gooden tweeted that he had pressed the wrong button and had meant to vote “no.” He said he would submit a correction to his vote.
Floyd’s death triggered a national outcry for a systemic transformation of law enforcement, but the push for policing changes couldn’t overcome partisan and election-year gridlock in Congress and the legislative efforts failed last year.
Democrats were determined to try again, as they control the White House, the Senate and the House. The measure that passed the House last summer on a 236-to-181 vote was reintroduced last month by Reps. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N. Y.).
“A profession where you have the power to kill should be a profession that requires highly trained officers who are accountable to the public,” Bass said during the House floor debate.
The legislation would ban chokeholds, end racial and religious profiling, establish a national database to track police misconduct and prohibit certain no-knock warrants. It also contains several provisions that would make it easier to hold officers accountable for misconduct in civil and criminal court. One proposal long sought by civil rights advocates would change “qualified immunity,” the legal doctrine that shields officers from lawsuits, by lowering the bar for plaintiffs to sue officers for alleged civil rights violations.
President Biden praised the bill on Wednesday in a virtual call with House Democrats. The White House said Monday that it supports the legislation and that the president “looks forward to working with the Congress to enact a landmark policing reform law.”
“To make our communities safer, we must begin by rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the people they are entrusted to serve and protect,” the White House said. “We cannot rebuild that trust if we do not hold police officers accountable for abuses of power and tackle systemic misconduct — and systemic racism — in police departments.”
Republicans argued that the legislation’s federal mandates go too far … (Read more)