House Democrats agreed to vote on bills that provide millions of dollars to local law enforcement and also include accountability measures. The deal came from months of back and forth between centrist and leftist Democrats, reports the Washington Post. Some Democrats had urged passage of the package ahead of the midterm elections as a counter to GOP attacks on Democrats as anti-police. Moderate and vulnerable swing-district Democrats have argued that “defund the police” language led to the party losing a surprising number of House seats in 2020. The Congressional Black Caucus, particularly Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for moderated negotiations between centrist and liberal lawmakers. “There is no perfect bill and there is no perfect answer,” Beatty said. “All of my members will not necessarily be celebrating or honoring it, but we will continue to work.”
Leadership had intended to pass a more robust public safety package in July, tying it to legislation that would ban assault weapons. Members of the Black and Progressive caucuses balked, arguing that any police funding bill should also have language that addresses police accountability. House Democrats left for their August recess with the promise that they would return to pass the public safety priorities. Still, members were in no rush to pass the package for fear that doing so would expose deep divisions within the caucus at a time when Democrats were seeing some voter enthusiasm return after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade during the summer. One of the measures would fund police departments with 125 officers or fewer and direct some money to officer training, community safety and police accountability. The money may not be used for new hires but can be used for signing bonuses as well as mental health efforts. Democrats will also vote on legislation that prioritizes sending unarmed first responders into situations involving people experiencing a mental health crisis; provides federal grants for communities practicing violence intervention and prevention; and offers assistance to law enforcement in solving gun crimes and supporting shooting victims. Leadership intends to hold a vote on the public safety package Thursday.