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How your congressional delegates voted

  • Post published:June 29, 2020
  • Post category:News

For the week ending June 26th

ESTABLISHING GROUND RULES FOR POLICE: The House on June 25 passed, 236 for and 181 against, a Democratic sponsored bill (HR 7120) that would set federal rules and guidelines for law enforcement practices at all levels of government. In addition to imposing rules for the tens of thousands of federal  police officers, the bill includes requirements for state and local law enforcement and uses the disbursement or threatened withholding of federal funds to encourage compliance. Congress typically delivers hundreds of millions of dollars annually to state and local law enforcement. Among its wide-ranging provisions, the bill addressed:

  • CHOKEHOLDS: Prohibit federal law enforcement from using chokeholds or other applications of pressure on the carotid arteries, throats or windpipes of persons being restrained. Financial incentives would encourage state and local police to also outlaw such tactics. The use of chokeholds based on race would be defined as a civil rights violation.
  • QUALIFIED IMMUNITY: Eliminate the “qualified immunity” defense from civil federal and non-federal litigation in which a police officer is being sued for damages based on misconduct including excessive use of force. At present, accused officers can obtain immunity merely by showing their conduct was not prohibited by “clearly established law” as opposed to a specific statute or regulation.
  • NO-KNOCK WARRANTS: Prohibit the use of no-knock warrants in federal drug cases, and use federal funding as leverage to persuade states and localities to bar the use of such warrants in nonfederal drug enforcement.
  • MISCONDUCT REGISTRY:Establish a National Police Misconduct Registry for data on officers fired by local police departments for reasons including excessive use of force.
  • RACIAL PROFILING: Prohibit racial, religious and discriminatory profiling by federal and nonfederal law enforcement. Individuals could bring civil actions for declaratory or injunctive relief.
  • USE OF FORCE STANDARD: Amend federal law to justify “use of force” on grounds it was “necessary” rather than merely “reasonable,” and use financial incentives to encourage state and local law enforcement to adopt the same standard.
  • USE OF FORCE REPORTING: Require state and local police to report use-of force data to a new Justice Department database, breaking down the information by race, sex, disability, religion and age. Justice could also collect data on local officers’ body frisks and traffic and pedestrian stops.
  • CAMERA REQUIREMENTS: Require uniformed federal police to wear body cameras and marked federal police cars to mount dashboard cameras, and give local departments financial incentives to equip officers with body cameras.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

YES: Deb Haaland, D-1, Xochitl Torres Small, D-2, Ben Ray Luján, D-3

REJECTING SENATE POLICE BILL: Voting 180 for and 236 against, the House on June 25 defeated a bid to replace a Democratic-sponsored police bill (HR 7120, above) with a less extensive proposal by Senate Republicans (below). House Republicans said the Senate bill includes far-reaching reforms and could reach President Donald Trump’s desk this year, while Democrats called it unworthy of the Black Lives Matter movement because it lacks enforcement, omits certain reforms and favors study over action.

A yes vote was to embrace the Senate GOP police bill.

NO: Haaland, Torres Small, Luján

VETO OVERRIDE ON STUDENT LOANS: Voting 238 for and 173 against, the House on June 26 did not reach the two-thirds majority needed to override Trump’s veto of a measure (HJ Res 76) concerning an administration rule on student loan forgiveness. The effect of the vote was to affirm a rule that critics said would provide forgiveness to only 3% of some 200,000 claimants who allege their school fraudulently misrepresented the quality of education they would receive. But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified that the rule would correct the “blanket forgiveness” of an Obama administration so-called “borrower defense” rule it replaced. The Trump rule bars class-action lawsuits against schools and requires claims to be adjudicated one-by-one by mandatory arbitration rather than in open court, with borrowers prohibited from appealing the decision. The rule sets a standard of evidence requiring borrowers to prove the fraud was intentional.

A yes vote was to override the presidential veto.

YES: Haaland, Torres Small, Luján

CONFERRING STATEHOOD ON DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Voting 232 for and 180 against, the House on June 26 passed a bill (HR 51) that would make the District of Columbia the 51st state, renamed as Washington, Douglass Commonwealth. As a state, the new Washington, D.C., would acquire voting rights in Congress, with one representative and two senators, and would have control over property within its present boundaries with exceptions including the Capitol complex, national monuments, the Supreme Court, the National Mall and nearby federal buildings, the White House complex and assorted other lots and edifices.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

YES: Haaland, Torres Small, Luján

CONFIRMING JUDGE CORY WILSON: Voting 52 for and 48 against, the Senate on June 24 confirmed Cory T. Wilson, a state
judge in Mississippi, for a seat on the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over federal trial courts in
Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Trump has now appointed 53 federal appeals judges. While Republicans praised Wilson’s conservative views, Democrats criticized him over his opposition to LGBTQ rights and the Affordable Care Act and support of Mississippi’s voter ID law and the carrying of concealed, loaded guns on public property including college campuses in his state.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.

NO: Tom Udall, D, Martin Heinrich, D

BLOCKING REPUBLICAN POLICE BILL: By a vote of 55 for and 45 against, the Senate on June 24 failed to reach the 60 votes needed to advance a Republican-drafted bill aimed at improving federal, state and local policing. Democrats called the measure much weaker than their party’s proposals in the Senate and House (above). Both parties would use federal funding of law enforcement as a lever to encourage state and local compliance. The Republican bill would prohibit chokeholds as narrowly defined, in contrast to broader Democratic language in both chambers that would outlaw the use of a range of restraints on blood flow and breathing.

The GOP bill would establish one federal commission to study policing issues especially affecting black males, and another to recommend criminal justice reforms. The bill also sought to make lynching a federal crime; require police officers to wear a body camera; establish a federal database of officers fired for misconduct in order to make it difficult for them to get rehired elsewhere; require local departments to submit details on their use of force causing death or serious injury to a federal database, and fund diversity hiring and de-escalation training. The Republican bill omits Democratic provisions to bar or scale back the “qualified immunity” defense in civil lawsuits against police officers, and to give the Department of Justice and state attorneys general more power to investigate local police departments for “pattern and practices” abuses.

A yes vote was to advance the GOP bill to debate and votes on amendments.

NO: Udall, Heinrich

HOUSE Deb Haaland (D) Ben Ray Luján (D) Xochitl Torres Small (D)

SENATE Martin Heinrich (D) Tom Udall (D)

Contact your legislators at the U.S. Capitol
Zip codes: House 20515, Senate 20510
Capitol operator: (202) 224-3121