Moderate and progressive Democrats strike a deal on policing bills ahead of midterm election


Moderate and progressive House Democrats struck a deal Wednesday on a long-awaited policing and public safety package, a feat they hope will unite the party on a major issue weeks before the midterm elections.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, said the House will vote on the package on Thursday, although the Senate has no plans to take up the issue before the election.

The package includes four bills written by moderate Democrats. One of Rep. Stephen Horsford of Nevada funds nonprofit, community, and religious organizations that work to reduce crime. Another member, Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, will provide grants to local police departments with fewer than 125 sworn officers. The third, by Representative Katie Porter of California, will provide grants for mental health professionals and other resources. And a fourth, by Representative Val Demings of Florida, would give police grants to help solve gun crimes.

The authors of the four bills are in tough races this fall, including Demings who is trying to unseat Republican Senator Marco Rubio in Florida. Police funding bills are aimed at thwarting election attacks from Republicans, who have accused Democrats of wanting to “stop police funding” and of failing to curb rising crime rates.

The agreement came after months of difficult negotiations between Gottheimer, the leader of the bipartisan problem-solving caucus, and prominent leaders in the black Congress, including President Joyce Petty, D-Ohio. Democratic Caucus President Hakim Jeffreys, DNY. ; and Progressive Representative Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota.

Asked how the deal would go through, Horsford said, “Perseverance. Plenty of staying on the table.”

Demings, a former chief of police in Orlando, told NBC News that her bill “will help solve homicides in this country. 50% of homicides are unsolved. It will also help provide support services to survivors and victims whose family members are left behind.”

“So I think it’s very important to give police the tools and resources they need to do what they’re supposed to do – and that solves the crime,” she said.

House Democrats have tried to bring a raft of conditional bills to the ground before the summer recess, but progressives and some members of the Black Caucus — who have called for police accountability after the killing of George Floyd in 2020 — have threatened to block the legislation.

The leadership withdrew the deal but vowed to return to the issue before the elections.

Two other police bills, written by moderate Representatives Abigail Spanberger and Dean Phillips, D.M., who were previously part of the negotiations, have been removed from the package announced Wednesday.

One of the changes that secured Progressive was to reduce the size of police departments eligible for certain grants under Gutheimer’s proposal to 125 officers, down from 200, said Pramila Jayapal, of Washington state, who was also involved in the talks.

“We negotiated it and it was good, productive and constructive negotiations over the past several days,” Jayapal told reporters. I think the call for accountability hasn’t really disappeared. This call for some kind of accountability for George Floyd remains very important.”

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