House Narrowly Passes George Floyd Justice In Policing Act

The House of Representatives passed a police reform bill Wednesday that would ban chokeholds across the nation and overhaul qualified immunity for officers.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act or H.R. 1280  passed the House by a 220-212 vote. The bill bans chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug cases at the federal level. The bill would also change qualified immunity laws, which make it difficult for citizens to sue police officers.

Some states have already banned no-knock warrants, weakened qualified immunity laws, and have begun publicizing police disciplinary files. The bill also authorizes the Department of Justice to issue subpoenas in investigations of police departments for a pattern or practice of discrimination.

The bill will face a difficult path in the Senate where 10 Republicans must support it. The only House Republican to back the bill, Rep. Lance Gooden (TX), said he didn’t mean to support the bill and hit the wrong button when voting.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who introduced the bill said she is confident she can get enough Republican support in the Senate to pass the bill considering many states have already made these moves.

“One of the things that has happened in the last 12 months, though, is that many states moved ahead without us, and they started passing reforms,” Bass told reporters after the House passed the bill. “So, this time, when we sit down to meet, we can talk about reforms that are already in place.”

The White House has supported the bill with President Joe Biden saying trust between police and their communities can’t be rebuilt until police are held responsible for their actions.

Republicans continued calls that Democrats are attempting to defund the police with the act’s passage, but the bill makes no mention of police budgets or money in general.

The bill is named after George Floyd, who was killed last summer by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin held his knee against Floyd’s neck for just under 9 minutes after Floyd was accused of stealing from a store. He has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter and his trial starts Monday.

Floyd’s death sparked national and worldwide Black Lives Matter protests.