Lingering disputes between House Democrats have again threatened action on a series of public safety bills this summer, creating headaches for party leaders while highlighting sharp divisions less than three months ahead of the midterm elections. The clash pits Democrats facing tough reelection contests in November — “front-liners” who want to vote quickly to bolster law enforcement agencies and defuse GOP attacks about Democrats being soft on crime — against liberals demanding stronger accountability measures aimed at curbing police abuses, reports The Hill. After delaying action on a police and community safety package before the long August recess, Democratic leaders hoped to unite the caucus behind the bills this week, when the House returns briefly to approve the health, climate and tax legislation passed by the Senate on Sunday.
Top negotiators had all but guaranteed the vote would happen this week. “That is what I have asked for, and been told,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH), head of the Congressional Black Caucus on July 29. That timeline has hit a wall as progressive lawmakers demanded new oversight and other accountability measures. Those voices want a better seat at the table and to delay any vote on police funding before then. “The hope would be that Democrats just do reconciliation this week and that we come back to policing at another time, whenever they can get together on it,” said a senior aide with a progressive office. Democratic leaders are downplaying any divisions, leaving open the possibility that a vote on the public safety package could materialize this week.