Democrats in the U.S. House voted to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act on Wednesday.
The legislation includes reform for qualified immunity, a ban on chokeholds and no-knock warrants, a grant program for state attorney generals to investigate police misconduct, and a requirement for police to use body cameras.
The 220-212 vote fell mostly on party lines, with only one Republican voting for the police reform bill — Rep. Lance Gooden of Dallas, who said it was an accident in a now-deleted tweet.
Democrats passed the same bill last year, but the legislation was stalled in the Republican-led Senate. Democrats will still need at least 10 Republican votes to pass the bill with a two-thirds majority in the Senate.
“The Justice in Policing Act demands accountability, transparency, and improved police training and practices,” said Rep. Al Green of Houston, a cosponsor of the bill. “However, there is much more work to be done to uproot the systemically racist conditions that have allowed societal problems such as police brutality to thrive for far too long.”
Democrats and members of the Congressional Black Caucus held a press conference prior to the bill’s passage.
“We do this in their name and the names of all the families who have lost loved ones, violently, without charges, even allegations, that fell to their death at the hands of those who were to serve and protect,” said Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee of the Floyd family and others.
Lee said the bill was not an anti-police bill, but a bill against police misconduct.
“It doesn’t diminish any officer’s ability to serve,” Lee said of the bill’s reforms to qualified immunity, or blanket liability protection to officers accused of wrongdoing “In fact, it enhances the ability to serve because then they begin to look at those they are protecting in an equal manner that each of them will have a right to go into court.”
“It is a civil rights law of policing,” Lee said. “With our vote today, we’re saying Black lives matter, we’re saying that America matters and we’re making a difference.”
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