Police reform bill passes US House, Senate passage more difficult

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The US House has passed a policing overhaul and accountability bill named after George Floyd which would ban chokeholds, attempt to end racial profiling, limit no-knock warrants, require body cameras, and establish a database to track police misconduct. The bill’s fate in the Senate is uncertain.

Support and opposition falls mostly along party lines. The legislation passed the House with no Republican support with 2 Democrats voting against it. Republicans have branded the bill as a “defund the police” movement and oppose it in the Senate where party lines are divided at 50 each, and the legislation needs 60 votes to proceed.

The threat of a filibuster and getting 10 Republicans to join Senate Democrats are necessary for the bill to make it to Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

“A profession where you have the power to kill should be a profession that requires highly trained officers who are accountable to the public,” said Calif. Democrat congresswoman Karen Bass, during House debate. Bass, one of the authors of the bill, has noted that there have been over 100 officer-involved shootings since Floyd’s death last year, with “numerous examples” of the officers not being charged.

Laying the groundwork for opposition in the Senate, Fla. Republican congresswoman Kat Cammack said “You say this is a reform bill, and I say that’s BS. Your own conference members have been advocating for the defunding of our local police officers, calling them names I cannot and will not repeat here today.”

To pass both houses, the bill will have to be the result of bi-partisan reconciliation between House and Senate versions.

By Milan Sime Martinic