Congress

House Democrats Pass Reform Bills

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

While waiting for final passage of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, House Democrats have moved on to other policies and already passed a couple of them.

The House voted by a slim margin to pass a police reform bill dubbed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that would make it easier to sue police officers, among other things.

The bill includes measures such as restricting certain funds to local governments that allow law enforcement officers to use choke holds, banning “no-knock warrants” that allow police officers to enter premises without announcing themselves and requiring law enforcement agencies to provide data on instances when police officers used deadly force. [...]

One of its most controversial provisions would change “qualified immunity” for police, further opening the door for lawsuits over the use of excessive force.

House Democrats also voted to pass an elections reform bill that would end gerrymandering.

House Resolution 1, which touches on virtually every aspect of the electoral process, was approved Wednesday night on a near party-line 220-210 vote. It would restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, strike down hurdles to voting and bring transparency to a murky campaign finance system that allows wealthy donors to anonymously bankroll political causes.

Both of these bills -- and everything that comes afterward for that matter -- are going to fall to Republican filibusters in the Senate. Republicans would literally rather die than pass a voting rights bill. Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country are advancing legislation to suppress votes.

Democrats will have to eliminate the legislative filibuster to do much of anything after the coronavirus stimulus bill is out the door and it's possible that eliminating it won't be an option.

Even eliminating the filibuster would require a simple majority vote and at least two Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, have signaled that they would vote against eliminating the legislative filibuster.

We can only hope those two senators will grow tired of having their own priorities blocked, but we can't count on that.