House passes sweeping police reform bill named after George Floyd

House passes sweeping police reform bill named after George Floyd
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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The Democrat-controlled House passed a sweeping reform bill on police funding on Wednesday, named after the man whose death sparked “mostly peaceful protests” throughout the summer and remainder of 2020.

George Floyd's death prefigures a police reform bill that redirects funding from the police to community-based programs, which would send social workers into potentially deadly situations.

The wide-ranging legislation also includes a ban on chokeholds and qualified immunity for the police, which would make it trivial for anyone to pursue claims of police brutality and seek recompense. The legislation also bans no-knock warrants on certain cases, prohibits racial and religious profiling, and mandates data collection on police encounters — drastically increasing the costs for local law enforcement agencies while reducing their budgets. 

The vote passed mostly along party lines, by 220-212. 

"Never again should an unarmed individual be murdered or brutalized by someone who is supposed to serve and protect them," said Rep. Karen Bass, a Democrat, in a statement. "Never again should the world be subject to witnessing what we saw happen to George Floyd in the streets in Minnesota."

In 2020, the House passed a similar version of the bill, but it failed in the Republican-controlled Senate. With Senate Democrats now having parity with their Republican counterparts, the bill would require only one Republican for majority support. If both parties vote along party lines, the bill will be met with a filibuster and likely fail. 

Republicans oppose the bill, arguing that it will prevent police from doing their jobs effectively. Republican Rep. Carlos Gimenez said on the House floor that the bill would “weaken and possibly destroy our community's police forces."

The Biden White House has expressed support for the bill, urging Democrats to support the proposal.

"To make our communities safe, we must begin by rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the people they are entrusted to serve and protect," the Biden administration 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."

Biden also pushed for the bill on social media, tweeting that “Following Senate consideration, I hope to be able to sign into law a landmark police reform bill.” 

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