House Passes Radical Electoral Reform Bill and Police Reform Measure Named After George Floyd

Washington – The House on Wednesday passed HR 1, a radical government and election reform bill and a key legislative priority for the Democratic majority. The House also passed the George Floyd Police Justice Act, although the vote was initially scheduled for Thursday. It moved up due to a security threat.

Two House sources confirmed to CBS News that there were discussions about increasing votes in the House due to the threat. The United States Capitol Police “received disturbing new information and intelligence indicating additional interest in the Capitol for the dates of March 4-6 from a group of militias,” said House Sergeant-at-Arms. Representatives in a newsletter on Wednesday.

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman told lawmakers during a hearing Wednesday that “we have some worrying intelligence” and “we have improved our security posture.” Legislators’ safety concerns come later The Capitol was stormed by a mob seeking to overturn the January 6 presidential election., with various rioters seeking to harm or even assassinate lawmakers.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer released an updated calendar showing the House would vote on George Floyd’s measure on Wednesday night instead of Thursday, allowing him to finish his workweek one day. before and not be in session on Thursday.

HR 1 was approved by 220-210 votes. No Republicans voted to pass the bill, which is not surprising, as most Republicans have openly opposed it, saying they believe it amounts to a federal overreach and a Democratic takeover.

“This is something that is hugely popular with the American people. The American people want to reduce the role of big, dark, special interest money in politics, which is preventing so many good things from happening. People want to see an end to suppression of voters, “President Nancy Pelosi said of HR 1 on Tuesday.

By 220 votes to 212, the House also voted to pass the George Floyd Police Justice Act, named after the Minnesota man who died in police custody last year, after an officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, instigating a wave of protests against racial violence and police brutality during the summer. Democratic Representatives Jared Golden of Maine and Ron Kind of Wisconsin voted against the legislation. Republican Rep. Lance Gooden of Texas voted in favor of the bill, but then tweeted that he did it by mistake.

The legislation would prohibit strangulation and review qualified immunity protections for law enforcement. Republican Senator Tim Scott proposed a police reform bill in the Senate last year, though it was blocked by Democrats who argued it didn’t go far enough. Although the two bills have many similarities, they differ in the treatment of qualified immunity protections for law enforcement officers.

Following the House vote, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump tweeted: “On behalf of the George Floyd family, we are deeply grateful and grateful for the leadership of the United States House. This represents a great step forward for reform the relationship between police officers and communities of color. “

The House had already passed HR 1 in 2019 after Democrats regained a majority and passed the Police Justice Act last spring, but none of the bills were considered in the Republican-controlled Senate. Democrats now have a narrow 50-seat majority in the Senate, but most laws require 60 votes to advance. The bills are unlikely to win the support of ten Republican senators, so their prospects for passing in the Senate are bleak.

HR 1, known as the “Law for the People,” would reform government ethics and campaign finance laws, and seek to strengthen voting rights by creating an automatic voter registry and expanding access to voting. anticipated and absent. Voting on the bill occurs when Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country. seek to restrict voting rights, including measures to limit voting by mail and impose stricter voter identification requirements.

“We believe that HR 1 should be passed because Republican state legislators, concerned about their losses, whether in their own states or in the country, are again increasing their efforts to make it difficult for the people to vote,” said the majority leader of the the House of Representatives, Steny. Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority of 6 to 3, is also considering two Arizona laws that restrict access to voting, which Democrats argue disproportionately affect minority voters. If the court upholds these laws, it could allow legislatures to impose even more restrictive voting laws and a higher standard for litigants seeking to challenge them.

Progressives have argued that the Senate should remove obstructionism, allowing legislation to move forward with a simple majority, to pass its key priorities. Some Democrats argue that it is important to remove obstructionism, particularly so that legislation on the right to vote can be passed, such as the People’s Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would reinstate the provisions of the Act. on the 1965 right to vote revoked by the Supreme Court. Former President Barack Obama called for the removal of obstructionism so that voting rights laws could be passed by the Senate during his eulogy at Lewis’s funeral last summer.

Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock suggested there could be a limited exception to the obstruction rules for voting and civil rights bills. Warnock was chosen to represent Georgia in a January special election, and the Republican-controlled state legislature has recently advanced bills to make early voting and mail-in voting more difficult.

“The right to vote preserves all other rights, and we have to do everything we can to preserve the voices of the people in our democracy,” Warnock told reporters Tuesday. “I think the issues are urgent enough to leave all options on the table.”

However, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have voiced their opposition to removing obstructionism. Manchin said Monday that he would “never” change his mind about ending obstructionism.

“Never! Jesus Christ! What is it you don’t understand about never?” Manchin said.

Nikole Killion and Brian Dakss contributed to this report.


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