US House passes police reform bill; Rooney absent, Diaz-Balart, Steube oppose

US_Capitol_west_side 3-2-19

June 26, 2020 by David Silverberg.

Last night, June 25, the US House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (House Resolution (HR) 7120) by a vote of 236 to 181.

Of Southwest Florida’s representatives, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-19-Fla.) was absent and Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) and Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) voted against it.

HR 7120 makes a variety of reforms to police practices in the wake of the death of George Floyd. These include increasing accountability for police misconduct; making police data more accessible and transparent and eliminating discriminatory police practices. Police will have lower thresholds for misconduct, less qualified immunity and a national registry will track complaints and records of police misconduct.

During the debate on HR 7120, Steube, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, spoke against the measure, saying “this is nothing more than an outburst of political emotion and a willingness to take advantage of civil unrest.” He argued that the bill “promotes anarchy and puts our law enforcement officers’ lives on the line.” (Steube’s full statement is below.)

Diaz-Balart also denounced the measure, tweeting that: “Meaningful & real police reform will require work & negotiation from both sides of the aisle. The bill presented today by House Leadership is yet another messaging tactic that actually puts our police officers & community at risk & fails to include any bipartisan provisions.” He added that senators were willing to amend their Republican bill to accommodate Democratic changes but Democratic senators were unwilling to allow it to come to a vote.

The House bill will now go to the Senate, where Senate Republicans drafted their own reform bill. However, Republicans needed 60 votes to proceed with debate on that bill and lost a procedural vote by 55 to 45 votes, effectively killing it.

In an interview with National Public Radio, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that the Republican bill “was so deeply flawed that it was not fixable, even if they let us have a few amendments, and McConnell did not promise that we would get amendments. No Democrat was going to vote for it.”

Analysts do not expect HR 7120 to make any progress in the Senate, leaving police reform uncertain and deadlocked in Congress, with both sides blaming the other for the lack of movement.

Full statement of Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) on HR 7120.

“Thank you Mr. Speaker.

Today, I rise in opposition to this bill and House Democrats’ completely partisan attempt at actual law enforcement reform. They call it the ‘Justice’ in Policing Act, but this legislation would not achieve justice for anyone.

Instead, it would promote anarchy and put our law enforcement officers’ lives at risk. It would end legal protection for our officers who actually follow their training and protocol. It would take essential weapons and protective equipment away from police.  In a time like today, where law enforcement officers are ambushed and targeted just because of their profession we are going to take away their ability to receive protective equipment.

So not only do the Democrats want to take away an officer’s legal protection if they follow their training and protocol, then they want to take away their protective vests, protective shields and protective vehicles they get in Military transfers that physically protect our officers from bullets. None of which have anything to do with George Floyd’s death. How does this make any sense? I can tell you it doesn’t make much sense to the mass majority of Americans who trust that someone will be there when they call 9-1-1. 

This legislation comes from the same party who has been calling to defund the police. Members of this very body have called to defund our police officers and our police departments. I have to ask my colleagues how they think that would help?

Defunding the police won’t solve any problems and only poses an extraordinary risk to our citizens who depend on society’s most basic governmental service of protecting life and property. This is nothing more than an outburst of political emotion and a willingness to take advantage of civil unrest.

And civil unrest – this civil unrest – is not constructive, it is anarchy. It also does not take into account the hundreds of thousands of good police officers risking everything to keep us safe. Officers Julian Keen, Jr. from my State of Florida. Unfortunately, you’ll never hear about the tragic death of this black officer in the mainstream media. It doesn’t fit the left’s narrative so they will ignore it. However, in Florida we will never forget Officer Keen, who was laid to rest this week, and the positive influence he had on our community. And after the criminal who killed him found out that he was a police officer in plain clothes, pulled out a gun and killed him.

So, it begs the question: who is really responsible for the flaws in law enforcement protocols?

All of these departments with all of these problems and issues are all run by Democratic commissions, and Democratic city councils. This is not a federal issue, this is a Minneapolis police issue or an Atlanta police issue, or a Ferguson issue, or a Chicago issue, where just this past weekend, they had one of the most violent weekends over Father’s day weekend. This is an issue with democratic leadership in these cities who have failed to keep up with standards training and protocol, some of these departments have training standards dating back to the 80s.  Why, you ask?Because their democratic leadership has failed to make necessary reforms in their departments. And now it’s the federal government’s role to ‘police’ local police departments run by a Democratic city council or commission? Will those commissions and leaders ever be held accountable?

Everyone in this chamber wants justice for George Floyd and his family. And they will get that, in a court of law, where justice belongs.  If the Democratic majority truly wants to reform our police departments and If they truly want to fix the problems, then the focus should be on the agencies with the problems and their leadership. Not passing a progressive messaging bill in an election year that you know has no chance at becoming law.

This legislation doesn’t get justice for anyone. Instead, it fails to address the real underlying problems while attempting to vilify our law enforcement officers. It won’t go anywhere in the Senate and it certainly won’t go to the President’s desk. So, let’s call it what it is: a political messaging bill. The longer we spend on this, the more time we waste in working on tangible solutions. Time to put politics aside and work on real solutions where the problems actually are located.

And I yield back.”

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg


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