The package of four bills passed in succession - all with bipartisan support - and headed to the Senate, where their fate is uncertain.
House Democrats on Thursday pushed through a long-sought policing and public safety package after overcoming internal differences on legislation they plan to make central to their election-year pitch.
The package of four bills passed in succession – all with bipartisan support – and headed to the Senate, where their fate is uncertain.
The Democrats’ success came after party leaders spent hours wrangling with progressives who threatened to block the package over their concerns about increasing money for local police departments. A few lawmakers said the plan lacked the accountability measures that Democrats had once sought after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked protests against racial injustice.
The House ended up approving the money, including for departments with fewer than 125 officers, and aid for de-escalation training and mental health services. A chief objective is reducing fatal encounters between police and people with mental illness.
Other parts of the package would provide money for enhanced community violence intervention _ a priority for progressives – and technology investments to help local investigators close unsolved cases, especially those involving gun crimes.
“The bottom line is that you can’t cut it or defund your way to safer communities and better police departments,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., one of the lead negotiators. “It’s about investing to protect. We must always have the backs of those who risked their lives every day to protect us.”
Despite the opposition from some liberals, there was support from top progressives Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Ilhan Omar D-Minn., who had negotiated with Gottheimer, a moderate.
Reps. Joyce Beatty of Ohio, who leads the Congressional Black Caucus, and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic Caucus chairman, facilitated a number of the conversations after it was clear in recent days that progress could be made.