Hoyer Says House May Return Early to Consider Policing Reforms
WASHINGTON – The House could return to Capitol Hill early to consider legislation to overhaul policing policies in response to the killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody and the nationwide protest and violence that has followed.
Last week, an updated calendar for the House had committee work days scheduled throughout the month and just one day of voting on legislation, June 30.
But during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House could return to the Hill much earlier if policing reforms are ready for consideration.
“If in fact legislation is proposed by the Congressional Black Caucus, is considered by the committee and ready to go, we will then call all the members back to consider and pass that legislation,” Hoyer said.
The Congressional Black Caucus is serving as a kind clearinghouse for the scores of legislative proposals that have been made since Floyd’s death on May 25. It plans to recommend legislation for the House to consider but the timing of that legislation’s arrival is still uncertain.
Hoyer said “many, many proposals” have been filed by members, saying as of Tuesday those proposals amounted to “maybe over 50 pieces of legislation.”
The majority leader explained the goal of the legislation will be “to stop this tragic loss of life, to strengthen accountability and to continue to reform our criminal justice system.”
“They want to be directed at obtaining justice, undermining violence, and they want to be sure that the legislation they propose will be effective in stopping the murder of people who are either under arrest or being pursued, either by police or by private sector individuals,” Hoyer said.
“They want to make sure there is accountability for the loss of lives, which is unjustified,” he added.
It’s likely that a package of bills will be assembled, and put up for a vote as a single piece of legislation. Hoyer also expressed a desire for the legislation to ultimately be bipartisan in nature.
On the potential for there being a future coronavirus relief bill, Hoyer said, “We will continue to hope that the Senate will come to the table to discuss further action, which we think is absolutely essential. And that we’ll then be able to bring legislation to the Floor.
“As soon as it is ready, we will convene the Congress and pass that legislation,” the majority leader said. “We have coming up in the month of July and the end of June, the National Defense Authorization Act, an infrastructure package, including reauthorization of the transportation provisions … [the] Water Resource and Development Act, and the legislation to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, and the 12 appropriation bills.
“I believe that we will pass all of those by the end of July, but right now, our committees are working very hard to get that legislation prepared for consideration on the Floor,” Hoyer said.
Before the briefing with reporters ended, the majority leader was also asked about President Donald Trump ordering the Secret Service and National Guard and others to clear protesters from Lafayette Square near the White House so that he would walk to St. John’s church — the so-called president’s church — for a photo op.
“It is certainly an action worthy and appropriate to censure and to criticize,” Hoyer said, emphasizing there have been no conversations about filing a censure resolution against the president.
“It was an act that indicated the total lack of understanding and empathy with the anger and frustration and cry for justice that was being put out, simply to facilitate a photo op obviously designed for political purposes, not designed to bring the country together, not designed to explain the difference between the peaceful protesters and some who would undermine the message by the use of violence,” the majority leader said.