House Democrats are delaying votes on a package of public-safety bills including an assault-weapons ban and funding for police, reflecting disagreements over the party's stance on law and order headed into the midterm elections, reports the Wall Street Journal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had planned to hold votes this week before lawmakers go on break, but splits between the Congressional Black Caucus and progressives on one side and its centrist flank on the other forced a delay Wednesday. The bills aren’t seen as advancing in the evenly divided Senate, making them primarily about signaling the party’s message to voters.
A Democratic aide said the vote would be put off until August, when the chamber is expected to return to consider a prescription-drug proposal. Some Democratic aides said the public-safety package could be pushed until September. “For me, it’s not about this bill or this bill, it’s about having a collective position,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “It’s not worth us not getting it right.” Democrats have been trying to pass policing legislation to counter GOP attacks that they are soft on criminals, trying to fend off a Republican takeover of the House in the midterm elections. Democrats have been hurt by President Biden’s low approval ratings, as well as voter concerns about the economy and crime. Democratic lawmakers are largely in agreement on legislation banning assault-style weapons and helping police address mental-health crises. The main disagreement is over legislation focused on funding police departments, which opponents say should do more to limit the use of force, no-knock warrants and other controversial tactics. Congressional Black Caucus members and progressives have resisted giving grants to police departments.