The House on Wednesday passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, an ambitious police reform bill that would ban chokeholds and overhaul qualified immunity protections for officers.
The legislation passed 220-212, though Republican Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Texas) said he’d voted yes by mistake and changed the official record to reflect his opposition.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where Democrats still need 10 Republicans to vote for passage.
Democrats hold a slight majority in the Senate – 51-50, counting Vice President Kamala Harris as a tie-breaking vote – but 60 votes are required for the bill’s passage.
Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said she is confident that enough Senate Republicans will support the measure.
Others agreed while applauding the action in the House.
“For too long, we have endured the pain of watching or seeing the deaths of people of color, particularly Black men and women, at the hands of rogue police officers who operate with impunity and take it upon themselves to be the arbiters of life and death,” said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). “The trauma that our communities feel is only made worse by the ways in which we are forced to reckon with the reality that Black people are over 3.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people, and Black teenagers are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than white teenagers.”
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was subsequently fired and charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. His trial and jury selection are scheduled to begin Monday.
Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, in a joint statement on behalf of the Floyd family of George Floyd, lauded the House vote.
“We are deeply gratified and grateful for the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives in passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, responding to the mandate issued by thousands of Americans who took to the streets last summer to raise their voices for change,” the lawyers wrote.
“This represents a major step forward to reform the relationship between police officers and communities of color and impose accountability on law enforcement officers whose conscious decisions preserve the life or cause the death of Americans, including so many people of color,” they said. “Now we urge the Senate to follow suit and send this important legislation to President Biden.”
The bill would ban neck restraints and no-knock warrants in drug cases at the federal level. It would also reform qualified immunity, a tenet that makes it difficult to sue officers.
“America’s standing in the world as a beacon for justice demands that we live up to the principles of justice in everything we stand for,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.). “The passage of this bill pushes us further along the path toward realizing justice for all.”