Congress Grapples with Police Reform

House and Senate separated by policy differences.

Debates over police reform legislation are set to come to a head this week in Congress. Both the House and Senate are planning to take up bills, and each have offered their own versions of police reform with changes to law enforcement and an end to racial policing and police brutality.

Although the two bills have similarities, they also have significant policy differences, including on the use of no-knock warrants and whether to make changes to “qualified immunity” which shields individual police officers from civil lawsuits.

The Senate is expected to take up a vote to end debate on Wednesday.

“All we know is that Sen. McConnell wants to move to a motion to proceed. We don’t know if that means that there will be amendments or no amendments. … There’s no basic understanding as we move forward,” Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said. He added, “If we felt that it was an honest process, where we can offer different ideas or even negotiate in advance a package that might be considered on the floor, I think more [partisans] would be open.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York singled out language in the bill on chokeholds, which would eliminate some federal grants if a state or local government does not have a ban.

The House will take up its own police reform bill on Thursday, and passage is expected along party lines.

“The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is a direct response to the outpouring of calls across the nation to confront systemic racism and end police brutality,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland. “Now that this bill has been marked up, the Judiciary Committee will bring it to the House floor for a vote … June 25.”

Senator McConnell said the House version is “going nowhere in the Senate” because of typical overreach. President Trump said of the House bill that it would “destroy our police.”

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For members of both Houses of Congress as they debate and then vote on their respective bills regarding police reform.
  • For wisdom for President Trump and his stance as a “law-and-order president.”
  • About the broader conversation that is overdue in America on racism and its results within the greater judicial system.

Sources: The Hill, Reuters


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