House Dems reach deal on policing bills ahead of midterms

Sep 21, 2022, 12:17 PM | Updated: 7:53 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.

House Democrats announced the deal Wednesday, ending months of intra-party tensions over what the package should contain. A series of four bills that will include an increase in funding for local police departments will come up for a vote on Thursday.

The breakthrough came after intense negotiations in recent days between Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat and leader of the centrist coalition, and Rep. Ilhan Omar D-Minn., one of the leaders of the progressive faction.

Joyce Beatty, chairwoman of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus, and Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the Democratic caucus, facilitated a number of the conversations after it was clear in recent days that progress could be made.

“We have people who still won’t like this bill, and I respect that tremendously,” Beatty, an Ohio Democrat, told reporters shortly before the deal was announced. “And we have people who will say we move the needle by listening and working with everyone.”

Their deal, reached with little time to spare on the House calendar, could help unite the party on a public safety platform more than two years after the police killing of George Floyd.

“I’m proud to have worked closely with Republicans, Democrats, and a broad spectrum of stakeholders to make real progress for public safety,” Gottheimer said in a statement Wednesday.

The package includes reforms to ensure police funding is used to support smaller police departments, along with investments in de-escalation training and $250 million for mental health resources for officers. A major goal is to reduce fatal encounters between police and people with mental illness.

To get the more liberal members on board, the final package also includes limited language around police accountability that would allow the Justice Department to have preferential consideration over which police departments are permitted to receive the grants. It will also allocate $50 million of the funding to go toward data collection on police practices and community safety.

“With this package, House Democrats have the opportunity to model a holistic, inclusive approach to public safety, and keep our promise to families across the country to address this issue at the federal level,” Omar and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a statement.

The police funding package is modest in comparison to the bill that Democrats introduced in the weeks after Floyd’s death in the summer of 2020.

That sweeping package, which passed the House more than a year later, went much further as far as police accountability, including banning police chokeholds and altering so-called qualified immunity for law enforcement, which would make it easier to pursue claims of police misconduct.

The unprecedented effort by lawmakers to curb police violence was stalled in the Senate for weeks as Republicans tried to push forward a competing plan by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., which would have diminished the use of chokeholds –not ban them — as well as increase federal reporting requirements for use of force and no-knock warrants. Senate Democrats blocked the plan, saying it did not go far enough to address racial inequality.

The new package, Gottheimer said, has gained the support and input of law enforcement groups like the National Association of Police Organization and the Fraternal Order of Police.

Other policing bills proposed by Reps. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Dean Phillips of Minnesota are not part of the package. But Spanberger, who has worked for the last year on a bill that would help increase officer pay and allow police departments to hire more officers, said it’s important that the party take action.

It is unclear if the bills will have any Republican support. Some quickly criticized the package.

“These are efforts to repair their image with voters who blame them for higher crime rates,” said Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., the chair of the Republican Study Committee. “The Democrats know that their anti-police rhetoric over the last few years has harmed them in key districts that they need to keep the majority, which they are not. This is a top-of-the-list item for voters.”

Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., said he’s not betting on bipartisan support, given the GOP plans to make crime a focal point in the fall campaign.

“I’m not worried about the other side,” Horsford said. “I’m worried about saving lives and reducing crime and breaking the cycle of violence.”

“I lost my father to gun violence when I was 19, so it’s personal,” he said.


Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

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


Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

7 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

7 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

9 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

9 days ago

(Pexels photo)...

Associated Press

Baby in Kansas City, Missouri, dies after her mother mistakenly put her in an oven

An infant in Missouri died when her mother mistakenly put her down for a nap in an oven, a prosecutor said Saturday.

10 days ago

Former Arizona Department of Corrections boss Charles Ryan received probation on Feb. 9, 2024. (AP ...

Associated Press

Former Arizona corrections boss sentenced to probation over armed 2022 standoff with police

Former Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan was sentenced Friday to probation for his no-contest plea to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from a 2022 armed standoff at his Tempe home.

11 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.



The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]

House Dems reach deal on policing bills ahead of midterms