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House Passes Sweeping Police Reform Bill, Senate Republicans Vow To Block It

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On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed sweeping criminal justice reforms aimed at curbing the use of excessive force by law enforcement in the wake of nationwide demonstrations protesting the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last month.

Despite fierce resistance from GOP leaders, Democrats of all stripes united in a 236 to 181 vote to send the measure to the Senate. GOP Reps. Will Hurd (Texas), Fred Upton (Mich.), and Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) bucked party lines and voted for the measure, The Hill reports.

As noted by The Hill, “Democrats are hoping to seize on the momentum generated by the massive protests that followed Floyd’s death to move a laundry list of police reforms they’ve pushed, unsuccessfully, for years or even decades.”

“With all of those people out protesting, this is not the time to do symbolism,” said Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and sponsor of the House bill. “We have to do substantive change.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) touted the passage of the measure, saying that by holding abusive officers to higher account, “will fundamentally transform the culture of policing to address systemic racism, curb police brutality and save lives.”

“We don’t paint all police with the same brush,” Pelosi said on the floor shortly before Thursday’s vote. “But, for those who need to be painted with that brush, we need to take the action contained in this bill.”

Floyd’s death on May 25 stirred a historic public outcry, sparking marches in cities across the country and putting intense pressure on Washington to address racial injustices in policing. But GOP leaders maintain the Democrats’ proposal goes too far to prevent police brutality while eliminating legal protections that will expose officers to “undue liabilities” — and make it difficult for departments to find good recruits.

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