WASHINGTON (WWNY) - Calling it “anti-police,” north country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik voted against a bill Wednesday night that would make sweeping changes to policing nationwide.
It’s called the George Floyd Justice in Police Act, named for a man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police last year. His death sparked nationwide protests against police brutality.
The bill prohibits what’s known as qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement from certain lawsuits.
Law enforcement groups have argued that without legal protections, fear of lawsuits will stop people from becoming police officers, even though the measure permits suits only against law enforcement agencies, not all public employees.
“The Democrats’ Justice in Policing Act poses a grave danger to law-abiding police officers, as it would eliminate qualified immunity protections, lower the standard for federal civil rights lawsuits, and limit access to necessary equipment during emergencies and natural disasters,” Stefanik said in a statement.
“Democrats rushed this bill to the House Floor without accepting any input from Republicans, expert testimony, or significant data.”
This is the same bill that was passed by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives last summer, but was stalled by the Senate, which was then controlled by Republicans.
With a slim majority in the Senate, Democrats have more hope of passing the bill, which has President Joe Biden’s support.
Stefanik instead supports a bill she co-sponsored with Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. This time, he has said he’s confident he can find some GOP support for the bill in the Senate, noting that qualified immunity and prosecutorial standards would be sticking points.
“We have to protect individual officers,” he said, according to the Associated Press.