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US House revives, passes policing overhaul bill

The bill will next head to the Senate, where its future is uncertain

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Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS

By Jarrell Dillard
Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House on Wednesday passed a sweeping law-enforcement reform bill initially introduced after last year’s protests over police killings of unarmed people of color.

The bill, H.R. 1280, passed 220-212, but it faces little chance in the Senate, where with Republican opposition it’s unlikely to get the 60 votes that would be needed to advance.

The bill would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement officers, prohibit racial and religious profiling by law enforcement and establish a national standard for police department operations, among other provisions.

The bill is named for George Floyd, a Black man who died in custody of the Minneapolis police in May. The death of Floyd and other people of color at the hands of law enforcement sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Representative Karen Bass, a California Democrat, introduced the policing reform bill in June. It was passed by the House later that month but was not brought up in the then-Republican controlled Senate.

[READ: The attack on the police officer’s qualified immunity defense]

Speaking on the House floor Wednesday before the vote, Bass said the bill is needed to bring justice for victims of police brutality.

“There are many tapes, many examples of individuals being shot and killed by officers, and yet transformation of policing in America has still not happened,” Bass said. “Passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act will be the critical first step, just the first step, to transform policing in America.”

Though Democrats now control the Senate, the measure will likely fall short of the votes it needs to end debate and be put to a vote. Many Republicans oppose eliminating qualified immunity and no-knock warrants.

Representative Pete Stauber, a Minnesota Republican, introduced a policing bill in June as an alternative to the Democratic legislation. On the House floor Wednesday he criticized Democrats for not working with Republicans on the issue.

“This is a bill that will no doubt make communities less safe. We all want police reform, we all want change, but until such time we work together this legislation is just another messaging bill from my Democrat colleagues,” Stauber said.

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