House Approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

The murder of George Floyd last year outraged millions of people around the world, myself included.

On April 20, 2021, former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering Mr. Floyd. Despite it being clear to most that Chauvin committed a crime, justice was not a foregone conclusion.

After the trial, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and members of the Floyd family acknowledged that nothing would bring George Floyd back – but that Chauvin’s conviction was a first step towards ensuring greater accountability.

I, too, believe that much more must be done to end systemic racism and ensure equality within our justice system; that's why I joined many of my House colleagues in introducing and passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act last year – and why, again this year, I joined a majority of Members of Congress in passing this sweeping bill, which I believe would make much-needed reforms in many aspects of federal, state, and local law enforcement.

The House approved H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act with my support on March 3, 2021, by a vote of 220 to 212.

This legislation would ban chokeholds (like the one that resulted in Mr. Floyd’s death), ban no-knock warrants in drug cases, and ban racial profiling. It would require that deadly force be used only as a last resort - and require officers to employ de-escalation techniques first. The standard for evaluating whether the use of force by law enforcement officers was justified would also be changed from whether the force was  “reasonable” to whether the force was “necessary” - and the bill would tie federal funding to the implementation of these standards and practices. 

H.R. 1280 would also reform qualified immunity to help victims hold officers accountable in court. The standard for prosecuting misconduct would be changed from “willfulness” to “recklessness” - making it easier for victims to get justice. 

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would also increase transparency in policing by requiring that body- and dashboard-cameras be used by police, and it would limit the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies. In addition, a National Police Misconduct Registry would be established to prevent problem-officers from being hired unknowingly somewhere else.

Finally, this bill would invest in community-based programs to change the culture of law enforcement and empower communities to redesign public safety to be more equitable and just.

This legislation wouldn't solve all of the structural, systemic problems in law enforcement. However, this is the most comprehensive reform we’ve seen in decades, and I believe that the enactment of this bill would be a major step towards ending systemic racism in law enforcement. I am proud to take this important step to end police brutality and ensure that everyone is treated equally under the law. I strongly encourage the Senate to approve the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

Click here for the text of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

Click here for more information about the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.