House Democrats pass police funding bills despite divisions

Sep 22, 2022, 12:01 AM | Updated: Sep 23, 2022, 8:49 am
FILE - Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., speaks during a news conference on Aug. 15, 2022, in New York....

FILE - Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., speaks during a news conference on Aug. 15, 2022, in New York. Progressive and centrist Democrats in the House have clinched agreement on a long-sought policing and public safety package that will be brought to the House floor just weeks before the midterm elections. The breakthrough came after intense negotiations in recent days between Gottheimer, a leader of the centrist coalition, and Rep. Ilhan Omar D-Minn., one of the leaders of the progressive faction. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats on Thursday pushed through a long-sought policing and public safety package after overcoming internal differences on legislation they plan to make central to their election-year pitch.

The package of four bills passed in succession — all with bipartisan support — and headed to the Senate, where their fate is uncertain.

The Democrats’ success came after party leaders spent hours wrangling with progressives who threatened to block the package over their concerns about increasing money for local police departments. A few lawmakers said the plan lacked the accountability measures that Democrats had once sought after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked protests against racial injustice.

The House ended up approving the money, including for departments with fewer than 125 officers, and aid for de-escalation training and mental health services. A chief objective is reducing fatal encounters between police and people with mental illness.

Other parts of the package would provide money for enhanced community violence intervention — a priority for progressives — and technology investments to help local investigators close unsolved cases, especially those involving gun crimes.

“The bottom line is that you can’t cut it or defund your way to safer communities and better police departments,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., one of the lead negotiators. “It’s about investing to protect. We must always have the backs of those who risked their lives every day to protect us.”

Despite the opposition from some liberals, there was support from top progressives Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Ilhan Omar D-Minn., who had negotiated with Gottheimer, a moderate.

Reps. Joyce Beatty of Ohio, who leads the Congressional Black Caucus, and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic Caucus chairman, facilitated a number of the conversations after it was clear in recent days that progress could be made.

After a deal was announced Wednesday, Democratic leaders quickly moved to bring the bills to a vote.

“We are proud of the work that we have been able to do here collectively as Democrats with different ideologies,” Omar told reporters. “And I think that this is the beginning, hopefully, of a process that we can continue to engage in.”

To get more liberals on board, language was included that would allow the Justice Department to have discretion over which police departments are permitted to receive the grants. It would also allocate departments to use any of the $60 million authorized for the data collection on police practices and community safety.

A policing package that passed in the House in March 2021 went much further, including banning police chokeholds and altering so-called qualified immunity for law enforcement, which would make it easier to pursue claims of police misconduct.

None of those provisions were included this time.

Rep. Cori Bush, who rose to prominence as an activist leader in Ferguson, Missouri, after the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, said the current funding bill does little to address “the crisis of police brutality.”

“Even the most bare-bones accountability measures” passed last year failed to make it into the new package, Bush said in a statement.

Despite those internal divisions, the bills did attract some Republican support. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., a co-sponsor of Gottheimer’s funding bill, spent time on the floor Thursday urging other Republicans to join him in supporting it.

“This is for our law enforcement men and women. This is for those small agencies,” Rutherford, a former sheriff in Jacksonville, said. “We need to be able to help them out. And I can tell you the last 2 1/2 years has left law enforcement demoralized like I’ve never before seen it.”

More than 140 Republicans ended up voting for that bill.

But other Republicans called the Democrats’ package a last-ditch effort to win over voters in the November elections.

“Democrats are bringing out these bills today because we’re 46 days from a midterm election,” Rep. Pete Stauber R-Minn., said. “They want the American people to suddenly and miraculously believe that they care about the crime crisis plaguing our nation.”

___

Associated Press reporter Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A Republican election challenger at right watches over election inspectors as they examine a...
Associated Press

Election officials brace for confrontational poll watchers

GOLDSBORO, N.C. (AP) — The situation with the poll watcher had gotten so bad that Anne Risku, the election director in North Carolina’s Wayne County, had to intervene via speakerphone. “You need to back off!” Risku recalled hollering after the woman wedged herself between a voter and the machine where the voter was trying to […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Turkey says 23 Kurdish militants killed in Iraq airstrikes

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish warplanes “neutralized” 23 Kurdish militants in a raid 140 kilometers (90 miles) inside Iraq, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Sunday. The ministry usually refers to killed militants as “neutralized.” It said the number of casualties in the mission in the Asos region of northern Iraq, which is controlled by the autonomous […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this picture provided by Swedish Coast Guard, a small release from Nord Stream 2 is seen,...
Associated Press

Denmark says Nord Stream 1 pipelines stop leaking

HELSINKI (AP) — Authorities in Denmark said Sunday that the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipelines have also stopped leaking, a day after officials said that the ruptured Nord Stream 2 pipelines also appeared to stop leaking. The Nord Stream AG company informed the Danish Energy Agency that a stable pressure now appears to have […]
1 day ago
Pope Francis, second window from right, reads a message during the Angelus noon prayer from the win...
Associated Press

Pope warns of nuclear war risk; appeals to Putin on Ukraine

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin for a cease-fire, imploring him to “stop this spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine and denouncing the “absurd” risk of the “uncontrollable” consequences of nuclear attack as tensions sharply escalate over the war. Francis uttered his strongest plea yet about […]
1 day ago
Mattresses lie on the floor in a holding cell at the basement of a police station which was used by...
Associated Press

10 torture sites in 1 town: Russia sowed pain, fear in Izium

IZIUM, Ukraine (AP) — The first time the Russian soldiers caught him, they tossed him bound and blindfolded into a trench covered with wooden boards for days on end. Then they beat him, over and over: Legs, arms, a hammer to the knees, all accompanied by furious diatribes against Ukraine. Before they let him go, […]
1 day ago
A protester takes down the Iranian flag on the ground of the Iranian embassy during the global prot...
Associated Press

Swiss police violently disperse anti-Iranian protests

BERLIN (AP) — Swiss police used rubber bullets to disperse protesters in front of the Iranian Embassy in Bern after two men climbed over the embassy’s fence and pulled down the Iranian flag from a flag pole in the yard. Police said late Saturday that nobody was injured and that the “large crowd” of protesters […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
House Democrats pass police funding bills despite divisions