House Democrats unveiled a landmark police reform bill on Monday as a response to nationwide protests that have called for widespread changes in police departments across the country. The protests were sparked by the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis two weeks ago.
The bill’s biggest reforms including banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug cases — which were highly disputed police practices that led to the death of Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.
Although Republicans have already branded the bill as a radical move to “defund the police,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) swatted down those claims in an MSNBC interview with Craig Melvin on Monday.
“We’re not going to that place,” Pelosi said. “Those are local decisions.”
Yet while she and other Democrats unveiled the bill to press on Monday while donning kente cloth scarves, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tweeted his support of police officers.
To the police officers across the country who put on the uniform every day and uphold their oath—THANK YOU.
Democrats want to defund you, but Republicans will never turn our backs on you.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) June 8, 2020
It’s unlikely Democrats will be able to shore up major Republican support when the bill hits the Senate floor by early July. “I’m not over there, so I’m not sure,” Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) told Jake Tapper when asked about the bill’s anticipated Republican supporters in an interview Sunday. “Rand Paul is one who had been an ally before. Once he gets past the lynching issue, hopefully, he will be an ally again.”
The legislation, however, would also make lynching a federal crime. An anti-lynching proposal was stalled in the Senate last week when the “ally” Bass describes — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) — argued over semantics to narrow the definition of lynching.
Presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden called on Congress in remarks at Philadelphia City Hall last week to “act this month” by passing anti-chokehold legislation that was first introduced by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) in late April that would also classify the technique as an “excessive use of force by police officers.”
Jeffries went a step further on Monday when he called the police chokehold “un-American,” during the press conference that introduced the bill.