The House passed a sweeping police reform package on Thursday that would end certain legal protections for officers accused of misconduct and ban chokeholds in response to the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes.
The 236-181 vote, largely along party lines, comes one day after Democrats blocked the Senate from moving forward on a competing bill due to arguments the legislation did not go far enough to enacting meaningful changes demanded by protesters in dozens of cities across the country. Three Republicans, Reps. Will Hurd, Brian Fitzpatrick and Fred Upton, joined Democrats in voting in favor of the measure.
The House bill, which was crafted by the Congressional Black Caucus, aims to bolster police accountability and end the practice of aggressive officers moving from one department to another by creating a national registry to track those with checkered records. It also would end certain police practices, such as the use of no-knock warrants and chokeholds, which have been under scrutiny after the recent deaths of Black Americans. Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Louisville ER technician, was shot and killed in her Kentucky home March 13 after police used a no-knock warrant to enter her house.
The Democrats’ bill would also end qualified immunity for police officers, making them personally liable for constitutional violations such as excessive force.
“George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and that was the beginning of a new chapter in a long history to transform policing in America,” Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Thursday morning. “This time hundreds of thousands of people in every state in the Union are marching to make sure that he did not die in vain. His death will not be just another Black man dead at the hands of the police.”