- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted to advance Democrats’ policing overhaul bill that would ban practices like chokeholds and “no-knock” warrants and opens the door for officers to be sued for misconduct, paving the way for a floor vote on the legislation before lawmakers break for the July 4 holiday.

The 24-14 vote capped a marathon committee markup during which Democrats repeatedly turned aside GOP efforts to amend the bill, previewing what will likely be a partisan showdown on the issue in the coming weeks.

Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat and lead sponsor of the bill, rejected a Senate Republican bill that was introduced on Wednesday.

“We have got to do transformative change - not superficial measures,” Ms. Bass said.

The Democrats’ legislation proposes national use of force standards, sets up a national misconduct registry, and ends “qualified immunity” for law enforcement that could open police up to civil lawsuits if an officer violates someone’s constitutional rights.

Republicans said they’re open to striking a compromise but that Democrats left them out of the process.

“To simply say, vote it and move on is not being honest with the American people,” said Rep. Doug Collins, Georgia Republican.

The debate over the hot-button issues spiraled out of control at times.

Rep. Cedric Richmond, Louisiana Democrat, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, exchanged verbal blows at one point in a back-and-forth that escalated into accusations over how much they each loved their families.

“Are you suggesting that you’re certain that none of us have non-white children?” Mr. Gaetz asked Mr. Richmond, who is black. “Because you reflected on your black son and you said none of us could understand.”

“Matt - Matt,” Mr. Richmond replied. “Stop. I’m not about to get sidetracked about the color of our children.”

“It is not about the color of your kids. It is about black males, black people in the streets that are getting killed and if one of them happens to be your kid I’m concerned about him, too,” Mr. Richmond said. “And clearly I’m more concerned about him than you are.”

“You’re claiming you have more concern for my family than I do? Who in the hell do you think you are?” Mr. Gaetz fired back.

“If the shoe fits,” Mr. Richmond said. “Was that a nerve?”

“You’re damn right it was a nerve,” Mr. Gaetz said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, has said the Democratic offer is too laden with heavy-handed mandates.

Senate Republicans on Wednesday unveiled a bill, spearheaded by Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, that tightens requirements for police departments to report on use of force and “no-knock” warrants and provides incentives and grants for measures like chokehold bans, training, and body cameras.

The push for an overhaul to policing practices in the country has picked up steam in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer last month.

Floyd’s death has sparked protests across the country and around the world, some of which have escalated into rioting and looting, as well as calls from some on the left to defund or dismantle police departments.

Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s younger brother, had pleaded with lawmakers last week not to let his brother’s death be in vain.

“I’m tired. I’m tired of the pain I’m feeling now and I’m tired of the pain I feel every time another black person is killed for no reason,” he told the panel.

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