The House Democrats certainly had a busy night on Wednesday. In addition to passing a massive “reimagining” of the way the nation votes, they also found time to push through a sweeping police “reform” bill. Just as with the bill that would mandate changes to the voting system, this one also barely squeaked through on a party-line vote… sort of. (More on that in a moment.) One of the immediate objections raised against this bill noted the massive amount of unfunded mandates that would be imposed on police departments across the nation. These mandates would force precincts to cut costs in other areas in order to remain in compliance, effectively defunding the police. And that’s something Joe Biden has previously claimed he opposed. (Daily Wire)
House Democrats passed a controversial police reform bill late on Wednesday evening that critics argue would effectively “defund the police” by costing police departments across the country hundreds of millions of dollars that they say will force those departments to make cuts to their budgets.
“Democrats just voted to defund the police,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said in a statement. “The unfunded mandates in their bill, H.R. 1280, would cost police departments hundreds of millions of dollars—the equivalent of taking 3,000 cops or more off the streets. Our men and women in uniform deserve better.”
Jason Smith (R-MO), Ranking Member on the Budget Committee, and Jim Jordan (R-OH), Ranking Member on the Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Congressional Budget Office Director Phillip Swagel highlighting their concerns with the bill.
There was a short period of time where it looked like the bill had bipartisan support, though only of the slimmest nature. The original roll call garnered 219 Democratic votes and one Republican. (210 Republicans and two Democrats opposed it.) But the lone Republican vote in favor of it was cast by Congressman Lance Gooden of Texas. He later said that he had voted in favor of the bill “by accident” and went back to amend his vote, putting him in the “nay” column. (Oops!)
As the Daily Wire points out, the total cost of all of the mandates in the bill would run into the hundreds of millions of dollars nationally. This could put it in violation of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, which caps unfunded mandates at $85 million. (Which is still too high if you ask me.) So this bill may be on a respirator before it even makes it out of the starting gate.
Assuming it somehow goes through, H.R. 1280 contains a number of progressive wish list items that will make communities less safe rather than more. The legislation would limit or eliminate qualified immunity for police officers, leading to an explosion of frequently frivolous lawsuits. It would ban the use of chokeholds entirely, further limiting the non-lethal options officers have when subduing violent suspects. It eliminates no-knock warrants in federal drug cases. While the proper use of no-knock warrants requires detailed training for police officers, they remain a valuable tool to prevent the loss of critical evidence during raids and arrests.
Even with everything that is clearly wrong with this bill, the Democrats were offered a chance to attract at least some bipartisan support at the eleventh hour. Republican Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis of New York offered her support if the Democrats would accept one amendment that would consist of nothing more than a statement saying that the House “recognizes and appreciates” those who serve in law enforcement and “condemns calls to ‘defund,’ ‘disband,’ ‘dismantle,’ or ‘abolish’ the police.”
219 Democrats voted against even doing that much.
Much like the voting mandate bill, this one will probably wind up in the “legislative graveyard” of the Senate. And rightly so.