House to pass resolution to overturn D.C. Police reform bill

The House on Wednesday is poised to pass a resolution blocking a District of Columbia police accountability law. President Joe Biden plans to veto it.

WASHINGTON – The House is set to vote on Wednesday to block a District of Columbia Police Accountability Package, which would ban practices such as chokeholds. It also includes greater public accessibility to officer disciplinary files and body camera footage.

The vote follows another conflict over policing in Washington D.C. between the leaders of the capital and federal lawmakers overseeing the nation’s capitol as House Republicans focus on crime in cities managed by Democrats which they view as a winning electoral issue.

Only a month before, Congress passed a measure that reversed a Washington, D.C., statute that lowered penalties for certain crimes, and which GOP critics characterized as “soft on crime.”

Democrats thought that Joe Biden would reject the GOP resolution. To avoid being branded as weak on crime, President Biden announced that he would sign the resolution, even though he supported Washington, D.C., home rule and statehood.

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The issue divided the party, with a majority of Senate Democrats — namely, 33 — voting along with Republicans to repeal the Washington, D.C., criminal legislation.

Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Republicans hope to once again put the most vulnerable Democrats into a difficult position on crime. Only a few Democrats are expected Wednesday to vote in favor of the GOP-led legislation.

Biden made it clear that he would veto any new GOP resolution if it reached his desk. Chuck Schumer, D.Y., Senate Majority leader, said that Washington, D.C., law included “reasonable” reforms and predicted that Democrats will hold firm against the GOP resolution, written by Rep. Andrew Clyde, R.Ga., member of the extreme right Freedom Caucus.

Schumer told journalists, “I think we can stop it.”

The Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act of Washington, D.C. — which was enacted in response to the nationwide protests against police brutality after George Floyd’s murder, which occurred in 2020 — contains a number police accountability measures.

The White House stated in a press release that Biden doesn’t support every provision of the bill, but that “commonsense reforms in police” are included in it. These include “banning of chokeholds; restricting use of deadly force; improving accessibility to body-worn cameras recordings; and requiring officers training in de-escalation of violence and use of power.”

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