House Democrats About To Self Destruct Over Policing Package

Disputes amongst House Democrats have jeopardized movement on public safety initiatives this summer, generating difficulties for Democratic leaders and spotlighting party splits less than three months before the midterms.



The fight is between “front-liner” Democrats who are running for re-election in November and want to vote quickly to improve law enforcement and liberals who want more accountability measures to stop police abuses.

Democratic politicians had wanted to unite the party behind a police and public security package this week when the House returns temporarily to Washington to adopt enormous health, climate, and tax measures enacted by the Senate on Sunday. As they left town last month, key negotiators almost assured a vote this week.

Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and a key player in the negotiations, said as Congress prepared to depart Washington on July 29 that she had sought and received the assurance that the vote would happen.

Progressive lawmakers have demanded more supervision and accountability mechanisms, delaying that timeframe. They demand a better seat at the table and to delay police funding votes.

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A progressive source said Monday that they expected Democrats to focus on reconciliation this week and policing afterward.

That would mean the negotiations would be able to continue,” the aide added, “and progressives would be able to be part of those conversations and say, ‘OK, let’s find the accountability language that people can feel comfortable with. And let’s get to a place where this can be a unifying position for Democrats, instead of splitting the caucus.’

Democratic officials minimize disagreements, leaving open the prospect of a vote this week.

A second top Democrat indicated talks are underway.

In a week when Democrats are likely to win big on the climate and health care packages—a significant element of President Biden’s domestic agenda—party leaders don’t want to highlight internal bickering over police spending.

The House Rules Committee will convene Wednesday to bring the Senate-passed reconciliation measure to the floor for Friday voting, but the police package is not included. Democratic sources said it wouldn’t be included.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) backed the policing plan on Tuesday, saying extra federal funds are needed to protect public safety and accountability, especially in small, neglected towns.

Small towns really don’t have enough funding for the police to have accountability,” she said. “There is grave reason for people to be concerned about needing justice in policing, I grant. First-time accountability.

Pelosi deferred to Beatty and the Black Caucus on the vote’s scheduling.

I don’t know, I just don’t know,” she said. “The Black Caucus decides. I’ll follow them.

Beatty’s office declined to comment this week. The Black Caucus chair predicted in July that a deal was imminent, just delayed.

Obviously, we have a big tent. There are people who want a variety of things. And so we’ve reached a great consensus that we’re going to get the entire package done,” she said.

If there is another delay, the front-runners will be upset because they want to show that they support law enforcement before the November elections and distance themselves from the liberal “defund the cops” campaign that hurt moderates in 2020.

The internal debate over accountability clauses blew apart a proposal to increase police funds alongside an assault weapons ban late this month, frustrating susceptible moderates hoping to enhance their prospects in November.

Critics blame the standoff on Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and members of the far-left “squad,” who have vowed to torpedo police budget legislation unless they provide accountability measures. This wish list includes ending no-knock warrants and limiting police immunity from lawsuits.

It’s that handful of, you know, five, six people — Jayapal and the squad members — and they’re the ones that once again torpedo the Democratic majority,” said one front-liner, requesting anonymity to explain a sensitive topic.

Their feelings were hurt. Not soon enough. They don’t claim enough time,” the legislator said. “They don’t want to do anything that might be interpreted as positive for policing in America. I mean, that’s just craziness. I mean, everybody supports the police. If you don’t, you’re a fool.

Progressives believe last month’s “agreement” was no deal since Progressive Caucus leaders never approved it.

You need progressive votes for this agreement,” remarked a progressive aide. “Non-CPC members made this agreement. Asking everyone to vote for it won’t work.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), the co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, has a plan to raise federal financing for small law enforcement; and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) has legislation to finance community-centered policing, or COPS.

Because they have seen how important and popular it is to help small, community-based police units, especially at a time when crime is going up, and budgets are being cut, they are trying to rally behind the bill.

Spanberger told reporters before Congress went on August vacation that “virtually every member of Congress has a department in their community that receives or seeks COPS grant funds.

She noted the political benefits of advancing the measure quickly.

Spanberger added that additional time to chat is essential.

It is entertaining to watch the bickering between the Dems. However, as Americans watch Democrats argue and jockey to gain votes for November through bills and measures, the Redwave is as sure as ever.

Notice: This article may contain commentary that reflects the author's opinion.