House Democrats are moving ahead with consideration of a package of policing and public safety bills – narrowly voting to open debate after a hold-up of several hours on Thursday as leadership faced issues locking in support to pass the legislation.
House Democrats, who have spent months trying to cobble together a package of police funding bills to help combat attacks on the campaign trail, spent Thursday morning struggling to get the votes to pass it, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Several progressive Democrats have threatened to vote against it, and the House went into recess as the leadership tried to sort it out. House Democratic leaders appear to have convinced one progressive Democrat – Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts – to vote “present” in order to secure enough votes to pass the long-stalled police funding package that vulnerable members have been demanding, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Several other progressive Democrats plan to vote no, so the vote will be close but it’s expected to pass.
The House cleared a procedural hurdle Thursday afternoon to open debate on the package of bills. The vote was extremely close, however, in a sign of how tight the vote math is for Democrats on the legislation. Pressley voted present on the procedural vote to begin debate on the bills.
It was a tense few moments on the House floor as Democrats were trying to figure out how to get the votes needed to pass the policing bills during the procedural vote.
Progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar, who negotiated the bills, was huddled with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, biting her fingernails by the dais.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tried to hold up the vote and said there was a member who was three minutes away who could vote. When the bills passed, Democrats on the floor cheered.
The package’s supporters announced Wednesday they’d reach a deal to pass the package this week following months of negotiations. Hoyer told reporters a vote will be scheduled for Thursday, and Rep. Joyce Beatty, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the move comes after reaching a compromise on language ensuring accountability for police officers and dropping another more contentious bill from the discussions.
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington state and Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who serves as whip of the caucus, released a statement applauding the deal Wednesday.
The bill is primarily a messaging bill going into the midterms as moderate Democratic House members have sought to protect themselves against political attacks that they’re anti-police.
CNN reported earlier this week on how dozens of the party’s most vulnerable members have sought to defuse those attacks through a flurry of pro-police campaign ads and local events with law enforcement.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Thursday.