WASHINGTON — The House on Wednesday approved a resolution to block a Washington, D.C., police accountability package that bans practices like chokeholds and includes greater public access to officer disciplinary records and body camera video.
The resolution passed 229-189, with 14 Democrats breaking with their party leadership and voting with all 215 Republicans.
The vote comes on the heels of another clash over policing between leaders in Washington and the federal lawmakers who oversee the nation’s capital as House Republicans focus on crime in cities run by Democrats, which they see as a winning election issue.
Just a month ago, Congress passed a resolution that overturned a Washington, D.C., law lowering penalties for certain crimes, which GOP critics painted as “soft on crime.”
Democrats believed President Joe Biden would veto that GOP resolution. But wary of being labeled weak on crime, he stunned and angered Democrats by announcing he would sign it, despite his support for D.C. statehood and home rule.
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The issue deeply divided the party, and a majority of Senate Democrats — 33 of them — joined with all Republicans in voting to overturn the crime legislation.
On Wednesday, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Republicans once again put vulnerable Democrats in a tough bind on the crime issue. Among the 14 Democrats who voted for the measure: Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, a co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus; Henry Cuellar of Texas; Jared Golden of Maine; Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington; and Jimmy Panetta of California, as well as Angie Craig of Minnesota, who was assaulted by a man in her Washington apartment building elevator in February.
Biden has made it clear this time that he will veto the new GOP resolution should it reach his desk. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday that the legislation included some “reasonable reforms” and predicted that Democrats would hold the line against the GOP resolution, authored by Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus.
“I expect we’ll be able to block it,” Schumer told reporters.
Washington's Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act — a response to nationwide police brutality protests after George Floyd’s murder in 2020 — includes a number of police accountability measures.
The White House said in a statement that Biden does not support every provision in the bill but that it includes “commonsense police reforms” like “banning chokeholds; limiting use of force and deadly force; improving access to body-worn camera recordings; and requiring officer training on de-escalation and use of force.”