House Democrats’ new coronavirus relief bill eliminates $600M for policing: ‘It’s shameful’

House Democrats’ latest $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief legislation removes $600 million for policing programs — raising eyebrows from Republicans during this moment of nationwide protests and racial unrest.

The scaled-back HEROES Act is less expensive than the massive $3.4 trillion package House Democrats passed in May. But Republicans rejected the original HEROES legislation as too big, and now Democrats are trying to pass an updated bill and entice Republicans to compromise.

But stripped away in the latest version that the House is debating this week is $300 million for Community Oriented Police Services Programs (COPS) that helps hire and rehire additional officers and $300 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants to help law enforcement purchase personal protective equipment and to cover costs to control coronavirus in prisons.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., pounced on the elimination as defunding the police.

“House Democrats have fully embraced the radical left’s movement to defund the police,” Scalise, GOP whip, said in a statement to Fox News. “Democrats’ so-called ‘Heroes Act’ removes $600 million from a previous version of the bill that was intended for real heroes: state and local law enforcement.”


He continued: “In the face of violent rioting and looting, our law enforcement officers need our help more than ever, but Speaker Pelosi and her liberal lieutenants are abandoning these officers in plain sight. Instead, Democrats decided to work in direct stimulus payments to illegal immigrants and blanket releases for certain federal prisoners. Democrats have no respect for law and order in our communities. It’s shameful.”

But Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said nothing in the legislation defunds the police, and that the issue is over whether to provide them additional funding in those programs in the coronavirus legislation.

“Just no additional money is in the updated bill,” Lowey, the chair of the Appropriations Committee, explained at a House Rules Committee hearing Wednesday. “Nothing is rescinded in this bill. So [in] no way does that mean defunding the police.”

In this Feb. 6, 2019, photo House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., head of the bipartisan group of House and Senate bargainers trying to negotiate a border security compromise in hope of avoiding another government shutdown, walks with reporters to a Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington. Lowey announced Thursday she would not seek another term.

In this Feb. 6, 2019, photo House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., head of the bipartisan group of House and Senate bargainers trying to negotiate a border security compromise in hope of avoiding another government shutdown, walks with reporters to a Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington. Lowey announced Thursday she would not seek another term.
(Associated Press)

Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., pressed Lowey on why she prioritized COPS funding in the original bill, but not in HEROES 2.0.

“In the spring you believed local police departments are worthy of $300 million in investment, you recognized that need. But in this HEROES Act, I can’t find that at all. It appears to have disappeared. Is that just a drafting error?” Woodall said.


Lowey said she’s been a longtime supporter of the policing program and suggested it might have been part of an overall

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Policing, criminal justice issues at the forefront in Dallas County race for Texas House

An already combative race for an eastern Dallas County statehouse seat grew even more contentious this week when Republican challenger Will Douglas questioned Democratic incumbent Rhetta Bowers’ support for local police.

“I’d like to push back on on the idea that Rep. Bowers supports local services,” Douglas said during an interview Monday with The Dallas Morning News’ editorial board. “I’m pretty sure Rep. Bowers chose not to sign Gov. [Greg] Abbott’s pledge to not defund the police. That brings me to another point of where representative Bowers and I differ. I’m a strong supporter of our law enforcement.”

“So am I,” Bowers cut in.

Douglas’ snipe came after Bowers fielded a question about her opposition to last year’s bill to cap a local government’s property tax revenue increase at 3.5%. Bowers said she opposed it because the city and county officials in her district told her it could harm their ability to fund public services like police, fire and emergency responders.

Bowers, who accused Douglas of being divisive, said he is distorting her record.

“My opponent has been very accusatory of me, not knowing me at all,” she fired back. “I am not about defunding the police. I fought hard for law enforcement when I was in the Legislature, and I took it as a great honor, and still do, to serve.”

Support for police has become a wedge issue since activists began calling for “defunding the police” after the death of George Floyd in May at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. The issue gained more attention as cities like Austin began reallocating resources away from policing and toward social services to address issues, like homelessness and mental illness, that police encounter on a regular basis.

Abbott, a Republican, seized on the political opportunity to create a ‘Back the Blue’ pledge and asked lawmakers and citizens to sign it to show their support. The GOP sees the issue as an easy way to peel off voters in competitive races like House District 113, where Bowers is facing her first re-election campaign. The district covers parts of Dallas, Balch Springs, Garland, Mesquite, Rowlett and Sunnyvale.

Douglas, who has a Black father and a white mother, said reducing funding for police would impact communities of color that are most impacted by violent crime. He said Bowers is trying to stay away from calling it a “defunding” but the end result is the same.

“If your boss tells you he’s going to reallocate your paycheck, I think you’re going to consider yourself defunded,” he said.

Bowers said she has pushed back against the moniker of “defunding the police” because it sends the wrong message. But Bowers, who is also Black, said Douglas is oversimplifying a complicated issue.

Police leaders in her district have told her they need help with homeless people. Because of that, Bowers filed a bill last session that required more training for officers on how to interact with homeless people. The bill did not pass.

After Floyd’s death,

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US military police ‘sought use of heat ray’ to disperse White House protesters | US policing

A military whistleblower has said federal officials sought some unusual crowd control devices, including a so-called heat ray, to disperse protesters outside the White House in June.

In written responses to questions from a House committee, the national guard major Adam DeMarco said the defence department’s lead military police officer for the national capital region sent an email asking if the Washington DC national guard possessed a long-range acoustic device used to transmit loud noises or an Active Denial System (ADS), the so-called heat ray.

DeMarco said he responded that the guard was not in possession of either device. National Public Radio and the Washington Post first reported DeMarco‘s testimony.

Use of either the acoustic device or the ADS would have been a significant escalation of crowd control for the guard, particularly since the defence officials ordered that guard troops not be armed when they went into the area. Law enforcement personnel were armed.

Athough active-duty military troops were sent to the region, they remained at bases outside the district in case they were needed.

The ADS was developed by the military nearly two decades ago and was unveiled to the public around 2007. It is not clear if it has ever been used in combat, although reports suggest it has been deployed.

The system, which emits a directed beam of energy that causes a burning sensation, was considered a non-lethal way to control crowds, particularly when it may be difficult to tell the enemy from innocent civilians in war zones.

Use of the device appeared to stall amid questions about whether it actually caused more serious injuries or burns than initially thought.

The long-range acoustic device, also called a sound cannon, sends out loud messages or sounds and has been used by law enforcement to disperse crowds.

The US military has, in recent years, ordered the cannon for the navy’s Military Sealift Command to be used by ships to hail or warn other vessels.

DeMarco testified in late July before the House natural resources committee, which is investigating the use of force against crowds in Lafayette Square that night. His remarks on the crowd-control devices came in response to follow-up questions from the committee.

DeMarco’s lawyer sent his answers to the committee on 28 August; NPR posted the document online Wednesday.

The Trump administration hasclaimed vicious attacks by protesters led federal forces to turn on what appeared to be a largely peaceful crowd on 1 June in the square in front of the White House.

Law enforcement and security officers that night clubbed and punched demonstrators and set mounted officers and chemical agents against them in one of the most controversial confrontations at the height of this year’s nationwide protests over the killing of black people at the hands of police.

The forceful clearing of Lafayette Square, long one of the country’s most prominent venues for demonstrations, came minutes before Donald Trump arrived in the area, en route to stage a photo event in front of a historic church

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White House moves to curb policing of corporate misbehavior

“We’ve seen regulatory enforcement drop to historic lows across agencies in the Trump administration,” said Amit Narang, regulatory expert at the public interest group Public Citizen. “So, I don’t see it as a shift in priorities, but more as like a codification of what is already the policy.”

The memo applies to a broad swath of enforcement activity, including vehicle safety, fair housing and environmental and labor protections.

It doesn’t address independent agencies like the Federal Reserve, Securities and Exchange Commission or the Federal Communications Commission, which don’t answer to the White House. But it implements a section of an executive order issued by President Donald Trump in May, which seems to cover those agencies as well.

The White House doesn’t have the ability to compel independent agencies to go along with the guidance, but they are run by Trump appointees.

The memo says investigations should take place within a specified timeframe and urges agencies to eliminate “multiple enforcement actions for a single body of operative facts.”

“The initiation of investigations and enforcement actions should carry the structural protection of requiring approval of a [political appointee] or, if necessitated by good cause, his or her designee,” according to the document.

The memo calls on executive agencies to issue any rules updating their enforcement practices by Nov. 26 with a request for public comment.

“President Trump’s executive order upholds the rule of law, presumption of innocence and independent adjudication,” a spokesperson for the White House budget office, which houses the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said in a statement.

“These principles protect both individuals and small businesses while at the same time enforcing the law against wrongdoers. Providing a fair process for all Americans is what’s at the heart of this executive order,” the spokesperson said.

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