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Congress stalls on police overhaul bills, again

Todd Ruger, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

Biden will explore potential executive actions on policing policy, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

Last week, the Justice Department announced it would prohibit federal law enforcement agencies from using “chokeholds” and “carotid restraints” under most circumstances, and limit the use of “no knock” warrants, after an internal review of policies.

But that does not address the vast majority of encounters between the public and state and local law enforcement officers.

In the Senate, a policing bill would need Republican support to overcome a filibuster, a hurdle that also has stopped other priorities of the Democratic Senate majority.

Many Republicans oppose stripping officers of qualified immunity, which shields officers from legal action taken by victims and their families for alleged civil rights violations.

The negotiations ran into a variety of obstacles in recent months, including opposition from police unions.

Booker, in his statement, said Democrats secured the support of policing groups such as the Fraternal Order of Police and International Association of Chiefs of Police for his proposals.

 

“Unfortunately, even with this law enforcement support and further compromises we offered, there was still too wide a gulf with our negotiating partners and we faced significant obstacles to securing a bipartisan deal,” Booker said.

Scott said Democrats have once again squandered a crucial opportunity for meaningful changes, and that there were areas of agreement on banning chokeholds, limiting the transfer of military equipment and increased mental health resources. But he said Democrats were reverting to a partisan approach to score political points.

“Despite having plenty of agreement, Democrats said no because they could not let go of their push to defund our law enforcement,” Scott said in a release. “Once again, the Left let their misguided idea of perfect be the enemy of good, impactful legislation.”

House Democrats also have tried to wedge some policing proposals into the fiscal 2022 Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill, through restrictions on federal grants for state and local law enforcement agencies, including that they meet certain use-of-force training standards.

That ended up derailing a House vote on that $86.2 billion bill amid concerns from Democrats in swing districts.

Among other conditions added to the spending bill, agencies that want a share of $516.6 million in two Justice Department grant programs would be required to get rid of excessive force and chokeholds, stop the use of “no-knock” warrants in drug cases, and end contractual arrangements that prevent investigations of law enforcement misconduct.

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