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House Passes Sweeping Police Reform Bill

by Michael Allen

 

The beautiful image of the United States capitol building contradicts the ugly battle to address police brutality.


 

 

House Passes ‘George Floyd’ Police Reform Act; Won’t Have Success in Senate


The death of George Floyd, and many other African-Americans like Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks, has definitely led to action, both in the streets and in the halls of Congress.


While the Republican-led United States Senate and the Democratic controlled House have yet to agree on particulars, both chambers agree that something has to occur to address police brutality.


“Exactly one month ago, George Floyd spoke his final words---‘I can’t breathe’—and changed the course of history,” said, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).


Pelosi added, “Americans from every walk of life and corner of the country have been marching, protesting and demanding that this moment of national agony become one of national action. Today, with the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the House is honoring his life and the lives of all killed by police brutality, and pledging: never again.”


On Thursday, House Democrats made an effort to change history when it comes to police reform, passing a sweeping overhaul of policing.


But getting a compromise with the Senate and the White House will determine if history is really made on police reform.


TheGrio.com reported, “In the stalemate over the policing overhaul, the parties are settled into their political zones, almost ensuring no legislation will become law. While there may be shared outrage over Floyd’s death, the lawmakers remain far apart on the broader debate over racial bias in policing and other institutions. The 236-181 House vote was largely on party lines, with three Republicans joining Democrats in favor of passage.


“Both bills share common elements that could be grounds for compromise. Central to both would be a national database of use-of-force incidents, which is viewed as a way to provide transparency on officers’ records if they transfer from one agency to another. The bills would restrict police chokeholds and set up new training procedures, including beefing up the use of body cameras.


“The Democratic bill goes much further, mandating many of those changes, while also revising the federal statute for police misconduct and holding officers personally liable for damages in lawsuits. It also halts the practice of sending military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.


“Neither bill goes as far as some activists want with calls to defund the police and shift resources to other community services.”


NPR reported, “The Senate Republican proposal steered away from outright bans, and changes to the legal shield that protects police from punishment in certain misconduct cases. Instead, it focused on training for de-escalation tactics, new federal reporting requirements and incentives for the use of police body cameras.”


Standing with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Speaker Pelosi urged politicians and leaders not to let the death of George Floyd and other African-Americans be in vain.


However, the collapse of a Senate bill to address policing puts the planned reforms in doubt for the time being.


Pelosi warned the Senate that they have a choice “to honor George Floyd’s life or do nothing.”


Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C) said that the bill is “closer to the trash than it’s ever been.”


The only African-American senator from the Republican Party, Sen. Scott told Fox News Channel, “I’m frustrated.”


Scott said that he was open to amending his Senate bill to include some of the proposals suggested by Democrats.


However, Democrats did not believe that Sen. McConnell would allow an extensive debate on the issue of police reform.


Therefore, they blocked the Republican bill. 


“From committee to floor, not one Republican amendment is going to be allowed,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “Never consulted us on the creation of this bill. I’ve reached out to those on the Democratic-side explaining that I wanted to make law. I wanted to work together. And I still do.”


On Wednesday, Scott said, “Today we lost a vote on a piece of legislation that would have led to systemic change in the relationship between communities of color and the law enforcement community. We would have broken the concept in this nation that you have to be for law enforcement or for communities of color. That is a false binary choice. My friends on the other side just said no.”


Democrats believe that the GOP will face mounting public pressure to act on the issue of police reform.


But many believe that going into the November elections, it is doubtful that a compromise will happen.


With the support of numeral civil rights organizations, many Democrats believe that the bill could pass if they do well in November.


But the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act also faces opposition from the White House.


President Donald Trump has said that he would veto the bill if it gets to his desk.


However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would not pass in the Senate.


Nevertheless, even President Trump has tried to address the issue of policing after the death of George Floyd.


But like all issues, common ground has to be found between the Senate, House and Oval Office.


Trump said, “If nothing happens with it, it’s one of those things. We have different philosophies.”


On June 16, Trump signed an executive order calling for police reform.


Trump’s executive order, which some criticized for not going far enough, creates a database that will track officers with multiple cases of police misconduct.


The executive order will use federal grant money to encourage police departments to meet higher certification standards for use of force.


Furthermore, the executive order will encourage police departments to involve social workers and mental health professionals when responding to people battling homelessness, addiction and/or mental illness.


This article was published on Friday 26 June, 2020.
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