By FARNOUSH AMIRI and KEVIN FREKING
WASHINGTON (AP) — Progressive and centrist Democrats in the House have clinched agreement on a long-sought policing and public safety package that will be brought to the House floor just weeks before the midterm elections.
House Democrats announced the deal Wednesday, ending months of intra-party tensions over what the package should contain. A series of four bills that will increase funding for local police departments will come up for a vote on Thursday.
The breakthrough came after intense negotiations in recent days between Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat and leader of the centrist coalition, and Rep. Ilhan Omar D-Minn., one of the leaders of the progressive faction. Their deal, reached with little time to spare on the House calendar, could help unite the party on a public safety platform more than two years after the police killing of George Floyd.
“I’m proud to have worked closely with Republicans, Democrats, and a broad spectrum of stakeholders to make real progress for public safety,” Gottheimer said in a statement Wednesday.
The package includes reforms to ensure police funding is used to support smaller police departments, along with investments in de-escalation training and mental health resources for officers to reduce fatal encounters between police and people with mental illness.
“With this package, House Democrats have the opportunity to model a holistic, inclusive approach to public safety, and keep our promise to families across the country to address this issue at the federal level,” Omar and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a statement.
The police funding package is modest in comparison to the bill that Democrats introduced in the weeks after Floyd’s death. It has the support of law enforcement groups like the National Association of Police Organization and the Fraternal Order of Police.
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