(CBS News) House Democrats unveiled legislation Monday morning to offer a blueprint for reforming policing policies in what is expected to be a massive bill focusing on holding law enforcement officers accountable for any misconduct and increasing transparency. The bill comes amid nationwide protests in response to the death of George Floyd.
The bill, led by the Congressional Black Caucus, was announced in a press conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, and other congressional Democrats on Monday morning. The bill is 136 pages, and includes reforms to make it easier to prosecute police officers for misconduct in civil court. Text of the bill, called the Justice in Policing Act 2020, was provided to CBS News by a House Democratic staffer.
Before rolling out their sweeping police reform measure, Democrats kneeled in silence in Emancipation Hall in the U.S. Capitol for eight minutes and 46 seconds to honor Floyd and other African-Americans who have died at the hands of law enforcement.
“The world is witnessing the birth of a new movement in our country,” Congresswoman Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said during a press conference, adding that “a profession where you have the power to kill should be a profession that requires highly trained officers who are accountable to the public.”
Bass said the package has more than 200 cosponsors in the House and Senate.
“This moment of national anguish is being transformed into a movement of national action as Americans from across the country peacefully protest to demand an end to injustice,” Pelosi said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the bill to the Senate floor for debate and a vote before July.
“Americans who took to the streets this week have demanded change,” he said. “With this legislation, Democrats are heeding their calls.”
The bill would amend the requirement of intent in the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct, by changing the standard of prosecution from “willfulness” to “recklessness.” It would also reform qualified immunity, meaning that individuals would be able to recover damages when their constitutional rights are violated by law enforcement officers.
The bill aims to implement structural reforms at the Justice Department by granting the department’s Civil Rights Division subpoena power. The bill would also incentivize state attorneys general to conduct pattern and practice investigations of local police departments, and provide grants for states to create structures for investigating police-involved deaths.
The legislation attempts to improve transparency by creating a National Police Misconduct Registry, and mandate state and local law enforcement turn over data on use of force broken out by race, gender, disability, religion and age.
The bill also aims to address cultural biases in police stations by mandating racial training. It would also change the standard for evaluating whether use of force was justified. Currently, officers only need to prove that use of force was reasonable. The bill would change the standard so that officers need to prove that use of force is necessary. The bill would also require that federal law enforcement officers wear body cameras, and limit transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
It would ban no-knock warrants in drug cases, meaning that police officers could not barge into people’s homes without knocking first. Protesters have called for ending the practice after police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, shot and killed Breonna Taylor in her bed after entering her home on the basis of a no-knock warrant. The bill would also ban police chokeholds. Floyd died after he was pinned down by a police officer with a knee to his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The bill includes a section that makes lynching a hate crime, after the Senate failed to pass an anti-lynching bill last week. It is unclear whether this package would receive support in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Some protesters have called for defunding police departments, but the House bill does not include any funding specifically for police departments and instead would implement grants to community organizations with the aim of building partnerships which allow for greater accountability.
President Trump has accused former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, of supporting this policy, although Biden has largely remained silent on that specific issue. In a speech last week, Biden called for chokeholds to be eliminated and for police training to be improved.
Read the proposed legislation, in its entirety, here or below.
Biden Expected To Repeal Military Trans Ban Tomorrow
The Biden administration is expected to repeal the ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military, multiple people informed of the decision told CBS News. The announcement is expected as soon as Monday, one senior Defense official and four outside advocates of repealing the ban told CBS News.
The senior Defense official told CBS News the repeal will be through executive order signed by President Joe Biden. The announcement is expected to take place at a ceremony with newly-confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who will order the Pentagon to go back to the policy enacted in 2016 by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter that allowed transgender Americans to serve openly.
The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
The new order will direct the branches of the military to outline an implementation plan.
The ban was announced by former President Trump via a tweet in July 2017. The ban took effect in April 2019 and barred transgender Americans from enlisting in the military.
In 2014, it was estimated there were around 15,500 transgender military members serving, according to a study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
Biden frequently repeated on the campaign trail his promise to repeal the ban.
Austin said at his Senate confirmation hearing last week that he planned to repeal the ban.
“I support the president’s plan or plan to overturn the ban,” Austin said on Tuesday when asked by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, “I truly believe, Senator, that as I said in my opening statement, that if you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve. And, you can expect that I will support that throughout.”
Trump Pardons Steve Bannon In One of His Final Acts As 45th President
(CNN)— President Donald Trump has decided to pardon his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, in a last-minute decision made only hours before he is scheduled to depart the White House for a final time.
Officials cautioned CNN that Trump’s decision was not final until he signed the paperwork. Trump told people that after much deliberation, he had decided to pardon Bannon as one of his final acts in office.
Bannon’s pardon would follow a frantic scramble during the President’s final hours in office as attorneys and top aides debated his inclusion on Trump’s outgoing clemency list. Despite their falling out in recent years, Trump was eager to pardon his former aide after recently reconnecting with him as he helped fan Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election.
It was a far cry from when Trump exiled Bannon from his inner circle after he was quoted in a book trashing the President’s children, claiming that Donald Trump Jr. had been “treasonous” by meeting with a Russian attorney and labeling Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.” Those statements from Bannon drove Trump to issue a lengthy statement saying he had “lost his mind.”
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump said at the time.Things shifted in recent months as Bannon attempted to breach Trump’s inner circle once again by offering advice before the election and pushing his false theories after Trump had lost.
Since Trump’s election defeat, the President has leaned further into his expansive pardon powers — granting pardons to his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, longtime ally Roger Stone and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, among others.
Among Trump’s pardons earlier in his term were those for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza and financier Michael Milken.
California Governor Formally Appoints Alex Padilla To Fill US Senate Seat Vacated By Kamala Harris
(CNN) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom formally submitted the appointment of Alex Padilla to the US Senate today, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
Padilla formally resigned as Secretary of State this morning and Gov. Newsom also submitted his nomination letter for Assembly member Shirley Weber to replace him. The Deputy Secretary of State, James Schwab, will be the Acting Secretary of State.
“It is fitting that on the same day we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a civil rights icon who fought for justice and representation — we also move forward the appointment of California’s first Latino U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and the nomination of Dr. Shirley Weber who will serve as the first-ever African American Secretary of State. Both will be strong defenders of our democracy during this fragile moment in our nation’s history,” said Gov. Newsom.
“I am humbled and honored by your trust in me to represent California in the United States Senate. I look forward to continuing to serve the great State of California as a United States Senator and to ensuring that the rights and democratic principles we cherish are protected and preserved for all people,” Padilla wrote in a letter to Gov. Newsom.
Some context: Earlier today, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris formally resigned her seat as one of California’s US Senators. She’ll be inaugurated as vice president on Wednesday, Jan. 20. In a farewell addressed posted to Twitter, Harris said, “Of course, I’m not saying goodbye. In many ways, I’m now saying hello as your vice president.”
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