On Wednesday, the U.S. House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, H.R. 1280, which has received strong criticism from law enforcement associations, including the National Association of Police Organizations as well as the National Fraternal Order of Police.
“The provisions included in the police reform bill were drafted without input from law enforcement officials and Republicans in the House,” Mississippi’s 4th District Congressman Steven Palazzo said. “Democrats’ goal to dismantle and defund the police is an extremely dangerous path to take and makes our communities less safe, which is why I would urge them to reconsider such an extreme agenda. I am proud to back America’s law enforcement officers and will work to restore funding for their work through my position on the House Appropriations Committee.”
All three Republican Congressman in Mississippi backed against the measure while 2nd District Democrat Congressman Bennie Thompson supported the bill.
“Happy to see the George Floyd bill pass in the House,” Congressman Thompson said in a tweet. “We will continue to do our part.”
Happy to see the George Floyd bill pass in the House. We will continue to do our part.
— Bennie G. Thompson (@BennieGThompson) March 4, 2021
The bill was passed in the last Congress but failed to move forward with a Republican controlled U.S. Senate. Now that Democrats control the upper chamber, the bill is expected to garner some attention and could receive a vote.
Mississippi 3rd District Congressman Michael Guest says this Democrat-backed bill will make communities less safe, adding that it is merely a measure to drive the left’s narrative. Guest said he and other Congressional Republicans support common sense reforms and have put forward an alternative to address issues on a bipartisan basis.
“This is little more than a messaging bill. When the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act went through the Committee process last year, Republicans offered amendments that were all rejected,” Congressman Guest said. “Instead, Republicans have offered a standalone bill called the JUSTICE Act that includes provisions to reform our law enforcement system that could receive bipartisan agreement. Unfortunately, instead of working together in a bipartisan manner, Democrats passed H.R. 1280, a bill that would make communities less safe.”
Guest, a former district attorney, said he will continue to work to pass meaningful legislation to help protect officers and increase transparency in policing by promoting beneficial legislation to expand the use of body-worn cameras and provide additional resources for law enforcement agencies.
Congressman Palazzo agreed. He, too, supports the JUSTICE Act, saying this alternative would increase transparency, accountability, and performance so our nation’s law enforcement officers (LEOs) are better prepared to protect and defend our communities.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled no punches when addressing the Democrat’s bill.
“On Wednesday, House Democrats did the unthinkable: they jammed through a bill that would actually defund the police. What began as a socialist slogan and became a battle cry for violent leftwing mobs last summer just took a dangerous step toward becoming federal law,” Leader McCarthy said in a statement. “The legislation — which fails to include common sense solutions supported by Republicans, like improving training, enhancing transparency, or reinforcing accountability — would force new regulations on police departments without providing any money for them to comply.”
McCarthy says the “unfunded mandates” in the Democrat bill would cost police departments across the country hundreds of millions of dollars.
“That’s the equivalent of taking 3,000 or more cops off the streets,” McCarthy said.
In a release, Congressman Palazzo outlined the following concerns with the George Floyd Act:
- Defunds the police by way of unnecessary unfunded mandates on law enforcement agencies.
- Eliminates qualified immunity protections for federal, state, and local LEOs, which protects LEOs when reasonable mistakes are made in high-pressure situations.
- Lowers mental standard for federal civil rights lawsuits to allow officer convictions even if the officer had no specific intent to deprive a person of a federal right.
- Creates a broad registry of police misconduct that includes complaints that are not adjudicated and final.
- Limits access to surplus equipment through the Department of Defense’s 1033 program that law enforcement agencies use to protect officers and serve communities in life-threatening situations such as natural disasters.
- Bans no-knock warrants in drug cases without consideration of exceptions that provide for the safety of law enforcement and the community.
The Act, H.R. 1280, passed the House with a 220-212 vote. One Republican, Congressman Lance Gooden from Texas, voted for the bill while two Democrats, Congressmen Jared Golden of Maine and Ron Kind of Wisconsin, voted against it.