This week: Democrats introduce sweeping police reform package
© Bonnie Cash/Greg Nash

Democrats are set to unveil a wide-ranging law enforcement reform bill as they look to build momentum for passing legislation in response to George Floyd’s death. 

House and Senate Democrats, including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Trump should accept election results 'like a man' The spectre of pension failures haunts this election Microsoft: Iranian hacking group targeting attendees of major international security conferences MORE (D-Calif.), Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen BassKaren Ruth BassPorter raises .2 million in third quarter Overnight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds Democrats push to limit transfer of military-grade gear to police MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHouse Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Graham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Lewandowski: Trump 'wants to see every Republican reelected regardless of ... if they break with the president' MORE (D-N.Y.), will introduce legislation on Monday. 

The bill is expected to, among other provisions, ban police chokeholds, make lynching a federal crime and end so-called qualified immunity, which shields officers from liability for certain acts performed in the line of duty. 

“We'll be releasing a bill tomorrow for things that should've been done in this country a long time ago — banning certain police practices, creating deeper accountability,” Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry Obama endorses Espy in Mississippi Senate race Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority MORE (D-N.J.), who will be at the unveiling, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” 


The Democratic bill will come on the heels of massive protests over the weekend against police brutality and urging reforms in the wake of Floyd’s death late last month. Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest. 

Democrats want to pass police reform legislation in a matter of weeks, with House leadership expected to bring a bill up for a vote on the floor by the end of the month. The House isn’t expected to return to Washington for votes until June 30, though House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHoyer lays out ambitious Democratic agenda for 2021, with health care at top Top Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate Trump orders aides to halt talks on COVID-19 relief MORE (D-Md.) previously left the door open to bringing members back earlier with 72 hours notice. 

Schumer is publicly calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: Battle for Senate 'a 50-50 proposition' 'Packing' federal courts is already a serious problem What a Biden administration should look like MORE (R-Ky.) to put a police reform bill on the floor before the chamber leaves for a two-week July 4 recess. 

“What matters is that we respond to the national wave of unrest with action. I am repeating my call to Leader McConnell. Leader McConnell: commit to putting law enforcement reform legislation on the floor before July 4. A divided nation cannot wait for healing, for solutions,” Schumer said on the floor last week. 

Congressional Republicans haven’t yet committed to supporting new police reforms, with some suggesting the effort would be political. It’s also unclear what, if anything, President TrumpDonald John TrumpHillary Clinton responds to Chrissy Teigen tweet: 'I love you back' Police called after Florida moms refuse to wear face masks at school board meeting about mask policy Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to shorten North Carolina mail-ballot deadline MORE would support after running in 2016 as tough on crime and months ahead of the November election.

“There may be a role for Congress to play in this as well, and we'll be talking to our colleagues about what, if anything, is appropriate for us to do in the wake of what's going on,” McConnell told reporters last week. 


The House Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing this week on policing practices and law enforcement, with the Senate Judiciary Committee expected to hold a similar hearing next week. 

“We’ll do two panels and see where it takes us,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLate donor surges push election spending projections to new heights Pence seeks to lift GOP in battle for Senate Wall Street backed Biden campaign with million in 2020 cycle: report MORE (R-S.C.) told reporters. 

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneEnsuring more Americans have access to 5G technology Pence won't preside over Barrett's final confirmation vote Gaffes put spotlight on Meadows at tough time for Trump MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said that “we had some, some discussions. We have some members who have some ideas.” 

Lands bill

McConnell has teed up the Senate to take up the Great American Outdoors Act, which permanently funds the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). 

The Senate will vote on ending debate on whether to proceed to the bill on Monday evening, where it will need 60 votes to overcome the initial procedural hurdle. 

The bill would give $900 million annually to fund the LWCF, which uses oil and gas revenue to fund conservation programs like securing land for national parks. The legislation would separately address a maintenance backlog at national parks. 

McConnell agreed to bring up the bill as part of a deal with Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerDemocrats brace for nail-biting finish to Senate battle Trump expressed doubt to donors GOP can hold Senate: report The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in MORE (R-Colo.), who faces a tough reelection bid. Gardner threatened, but ultimately backed down from, blocking the Senate from leaving for a weeklong Memorial Day recess. 

GOP probe

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on a broad subpoena as part of Graham’s investigation into “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI’s investigation into Russia's election interference and the Trump campaign, and the subsequent Mueller investigation. 

Graham announced last month that he would force a vote on the ability to subpoena dozens of officials, including former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGOP former US attorneys back Biden, say Trump 'threat to rule of law' Biden's polling lead over Trump looks more comfortable than Clinton's Trump has list of top intelligence officials he'll fire if he wins reelection: report MORE and former national security adviser Susan Rice. 

The committee had been expected to vote last week but Graham abruptly announced they would wait a week to give members of the committee more time to debate the subpoena, as the hearing pushed up against a pre-scheduled Senate vote. 

"We're going to do what this committee needs to do, and we're going to fight it out and we're going to vote. And we're not going to be done today, so I don't see a resolution this day, if you need to go somewhere go. ... I think the best thing for us to do is [to] carry this over to next week so we can have a full discussion," he said.

He added that "we'll get to [a] conclusion next week" on the subpoena vote.

Graham told The Hill after last week’s meeting that he had the votes to issue his subpoena. Because Republicans control a majority on the panel, he’ll be able to get authority to issue more than 50 subpoenas as long as every Republican on the committee supports him.