Democrats call for Congress to take action following death of George Floyd

Democrats call for Congress to take action following death of George Floyd
© Greg Nash

Top Democrats in the House are calling for Congress to take action in the wake of the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis police custody.

During a House Democratic Caucus conference call on Monday, Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyProgressives camp outside Capitol to protest evictions Pelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans On The Money: Schumer, Warren call on Biden to extend student loan pause | IMF estimates 6 percent global growth this year MORE (D-Mass.) asked her colleagues to sign onto a resolution — introduced alongside Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarProgressives camp outside Capitol to protest evictions Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia US launches second Somalia strike in week MORE (D-Minn.), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairwoman Karen BassKaren Ruth BassScott: 'There is hope' for police reform bill Biden: Republicans who say Democrats want to defund the police are lying Omar leads lawmakers in calling for US envoy to combat Islamophobia MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeHouse passes sprawling spending bill ahead of fall shutdown fight House passes spending bill to boost Capitol Police and Hill staffer pay Democrats repeal prohibition on funding abortions abroad MORE (D-Calif.) — aimed at rebuking police brutality, racial profiling and the use of excessive course, according to a source on the call. 

The source said Rep. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathCritical race theory becomes focus of midterms Overnight Health Care: Fauci clashes with Paul - again | New York reaches .1B settlement with opioid distributors | Delta variant accounts for 83 percent of US COVID-19 cases Abortion rights group endorsing 12 House Democrats ahead of midterms MORE (D-Ga.) advocated for members to join Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonBiden to meet with Surfside families as rescue efforts enter eighth day Biden offers traditional address in eerie setting Congressional Black Caucus members post selfie celebrating first WH visit in four years MORE’s (D-Fla.) proposed commission that would make recommendations “to address social problems affecting black men and boys.”

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The push for action comes as protests against police brutality have erupted in cities across the country, sparked by the death of George Floyd.

Floyd died while being arrested by Minneapolis police and a widely shared video shows an officer kneeling on his neck for nine minutes as Floyd says he can't breathe and then becomes unresponsive.

Over the course of the past several days, peaceful daytime protests in several different major cities have escalated at night into violent clashes between law enforcement and demonstrators, with looting and property damage prompting numerous mayors to put curfews into place.  

On the call, Bass noted that African Americans have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, adding that the black community has faced a number of tragedies in recent weeks.  

“While we're dealing with the disproportionate death rate, there was harassment that started and black people were being assaulted by police and in some cases arrested for not wearing masks, or for not doing the public health recommendation of social distancing. We had the three murders, and so it's kind of like you know all of these events at one time, a pandemic upon a pandemic,” she told members, according to a Democratic aide.  

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“This is not a CBC issue, this is an issue for all of us because all of us represent diverse populations. Twenty-nine years ago, when the Rodney King beating was on video we were almost excited because we believed finally there was no way they could deny that this didn't happen. We were confident that these officers were going to be arrested and convicted, because it happened on video. But it didn’t. In the last 20 years, how many videos have we seen? We have to end this.”

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiManchin on reported boos at Democratic luncheon: 'I heard a lot of nos' Kinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy Ocasio-Cortez: Democrats can't blame GOP for end of eviction moratorium MORE (D-Calif.) told members on the call that this “needs to be a transformative” moment, asserting that historic action will be taken. 

“So, my colleagues again, as some of our others have said, let’s, you know, understand the moment ... we’ve seen it again and again and nothing much has happened. But this has to be pivotal. It has to be transformative,” she told members. 

“And it has to happen. The Congressional Black Caucus, working with the Judiciary Committee, will strongly, forcefully put out a message soon.” 

While it's unclear what legislative action will be taken as of now, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBiden backs effort to include immigration in budget package Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Britney Spears's new attorney files motion to remove her dad as conservator MORE (D-N.Y.) expressed Democrats' “commitment to addressing systemic racism and police brutality in America amid the absence of any leadership from the president during this time of tremendous pain and suffering,” Democratic caucus sources said.  

Several influential Democratic lawmakers including Rep. John LewisJohn LewisManchin 'can't imagine' supporting change to filibuster for voting rights House ethics panel decides against probe after Hank Johnson civil disobedience Constitutional rights are the exception MORE (Ga.), a civil rights icon, have called for the demonstrations to remain peaceful.  

“To the rioters here in Atlanta and across the country: I see you, and I hear you. I know your pain, your rage, your sense of despair and hopelessness. Justice has, indeed, been denied for far too long. Rioting, looting, and burning is not the way,” he said in a statement on Saturday

“Organize. Demonstrate. Sit-in. Stand-up. Vote. Be constructive, not destructive. History has proven time and again that non-violent, peaceful protest is the way to achieve the justice and equality that we all deserve.”

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesMcCarthy jokes it'll be hard not to 'hit' Pelosi with gavel if he is Speaker Jeffries: 'Sick and cynical' for GOP to blame Pelosi for Jan. 6 Democrat unveils bill to allow only House members to serve as Speaker MORE (D-N.Y.) told members Thursday’s caucus call “will be a conversation devoted to race in America.”