Home passes sweeping elections and police reform payments

Washington – Parliament passed two progressive items on the agenda late Wednesday night to advance major legislative priorities, despite Senate bills facing an uncertain future.

The House approved HR 1, a comprehensive government and electoral reform bill, with 220 votes to 210. It also approved the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act by 220-212 votes, with Democrats Jared Golden and Ron Kind joining all Republicans in voting against the bill. Texas Republican Congressman Lance Gooden voted for the bill but later tweeted that he accidentally did so.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is named after the Minnesota man who died in police custody last year after an officer kneeled on his neck for a few minutes and a Wave of protests against racist violence and police brutality in summer. Legislation, spearheaded by Congressman Karen Bass, bans chokeholds and arrest warrants in drug cases and reforms qualified immunity, making it easier to bring claims against police officers in civil courts.

Other provisions in the House Bill include incentives for attorneys general to investigate local police forces and grants to states to establish police death investigations. The legislation seeks to improve transparency by establishing a national register of police misconduct and mandating state and local law enforcement agencies to break down data on the use of violence by race, gender, disability, religion and age. The bill also aims to eradicate cultural biases in police stations by mandating racial bias training and would also change the standard for assessing whether the use of force is warranted.

The invoice initially passed In June 2020, Republicans Brian Fitzpatrick and Fred Upton joined forces with all Democrats to support the law. Both Fitzpatrick and Upton voted against the bill on Wednesday evening.

Floyd’s family was at the Capitol Wednesday night to hold the debate and final vote on the bill. Floyd family lawyers Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci and L. Chris Stewart said in a statement that the bill “marks an important step forward in reforming the relationship between police officers and color communities and making law enforcement officers accountable for their conscious decisions save the life or cause the death of Americans, including so many people of color. “

“Now we are calling on the Senate to follow suit and send this important piece of legislation to President Biden,” the lawyers said.

A police reform bill was proposed in the Senate by Republican Senator Tim Scott last year, but it was blocked by Democrats who argued it didn’t go far enough. While the two bills share many similarities, they differ in how qualified immunity safeguards apply to 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 litigation against them.

The Senate bill would require increased reporting of the use of force and arrest warrants, provide grants to equip law enforcement agencies with body cameras, and require departments to keep and share officers’ disciplinary records. Scott told reporters earlier this week that he had an initial conversation with Bass about their police reform bills and said Thursday that he spoke with Senator Cory Booker last weekend about a Senate bill.

“It just depends on your definition of non-partisan,” Scott said when asked if a compromise was possible.

Although the vote on the law on justice in the police force was originally scheduled for Thursday, it was postponed due to a security threat. Two House sources confirmed to CBS News that there had been discussions about raising the House vote because of the threat. The US Capitol Police “received new and pertinent information and information indicating additional militia group interest in the Capitol for the March 4-6 dates,” the House Sergeant at Arms said in a bulletin Wednesday.

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman told lawmakers during a hearing Wednesday that “we have some information” and “we have improved our security situation”. The concerns about the safety of the legislature follow suit The Capitol was stormed by a mob trying to topple the January 6th presidential electionwith several rioters trying to violate or even murder the legislature.

Steny Hoyer, chairman of the House majority, released an updated schedule indicating that the House would vote on the George Floyd measure Wednesday night instead of Thursday so the House could end its work week one day early and not attend the meeting on Thursday.

Much like the Law on Justice in the Police, the House had passed electoral reform law during the last Congress after the Democrats regained a majority, but none of them were considered in the Republican-controlled Senate. Democrats now have a slim majority of 50 seats in the Senate, but most laws require 60 votes to move forward. Ten Republican senators are unlikely to endorse the bills The prospects of getting past the Senate are bleak.

HR 1, known as the For the People Act, would revise government ethics and campaign funding laws and seek to strengthen voting rights by creating automatic voter registration and increasing access to early and absentee voting. Voting on the bill is taking place as Republican-controlled legislation across the country try to restrict the right to vote, including measures to limit mail-in voting and impose stricter requirements on voter identification.

“We believe HR 1 must pass because Republican lawmakers, concerned about their losses, either in their own states or in the country, are re-intensifying efforts to make it harder for people to vote,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court, which has a Conservative majority of 6 to 3, is also under consideration of two laws of Arizona this restricts access to elections that Democrats claim disproportionately affect minority voters. If the court complies with these laws, it could allow lawmakers to impose even more restrictive electoral laws and a higher standard on litigation they want to challenge.

Progressives have argued that the Senate should get rid of the filibuster that would allow legislation to move forward by simple majority to pass their top priorities. Some Democrats argue that getting rid of the filibuster is important, especially so that voting laws can be passed, such as the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, designed to restore the provisions of the 1965 Suffrage Supreme Court. Former President Barack Obama demanded the elimination of the filibuster so that the suffrage laws could pass the Senate during his eulogy at Lewis’ funeral last summer.

Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock suggested that there might be a limited exception to the filibuster rules for bills related to voting and civil rights. Warnock was elected to represent Georgia in a special election in January and the Republican-controlled legislature recently tabled bills to make early voting and postal votes difficult.

“Voting rights preserve all other rights, and we must do everything possible to preserve the votes of the people in our democracy,” Warnock told reporters on Tuesday. “I think the problems are urgent enough to leave all options on the table.”

However, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have spoken out against the elimination of the filibuster. Manchin said Monday that he would “never” change his mind about ending the filibuster.

“Never! Jesus Christ! What do you never understand about never?” Said Manchin.

Nikole Killion and Brian Dakss contributed to this report.

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