A preliminary police funding and accountability agreement signed Thursday night by leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus surprised and disappointed progressive members of the TBEN, according to two top officials of TBEN members.
“Truly, the Congressional Black Caucus made a deal that didn’t align with what the civil rights community wanted to do, and it didn’t align with what many, many, many members of their caucus wanted,” a senior aide told a reporter. TBEN member, who asked for anonymity for professional reasons, to The Bharat Express News.
Earlier in the day on Thursday, TBEN Chair Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) had reassured members of the caucus that a vote on legislation that would drastically increase federal funding for the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program would not take place before at least a few more weeks, according to the two assistants. The extra time was intended to meet the push from progressives to attach stronger police accountability clauses to the increases in funding. Several TBEN members then returned to their districts, assuming there would be no more big votes before the weekend.
Now House Democrats are hearing that Beatty reached an agreement Thursday night on liability provisions with centrist Representatives Josh Gottheimer (DN.J.) and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) in conjunction with the House Democratic leadership, according to the two senior aides. . Democratic leaders will try to get a vote on the two police funding bills tomorrow by tying a vote on the assault weapons ban with a vote on the previous two bills. The TBEN will meet early Friday morning to discuss the legislation.
Progressive members of the TBEN feel betrayed and plan to work with other progressive lawmakers to block the adoption of the rule that would allow a vote on both police funding and the Assault Weapons Prohibition Act, the senior two said. Staff members. Progressive opposition to let the voting go ahead helped postpone a vote on the line earlier this week.
“Why is the TBEN working so hard to get this done and using the TBEN stamp to get police funding with little accountability for black people?” a senior assistant to a second TBEN member, who asked for anonymity for professional reasons, told The Bharat Express News. “There is a sense that the TBEN is being used again to get something done for leadership and not necessarily to center the interests of black people.”
Progressives believe that tougher negotiations could still lead to police financing bills with credible liability provisions, such as a national register for police misconduct and a ban on no-knock warrants.
Hoping to buy the extra time needed to negotiate these provisions, progressives could try to derail the leaders’ plans to organize a vote on the existing legislation.
Every Republican in the House is expected to vote against the rule that allows a vote on police funding laws and the assault weapons ban because of the GOP conference’s opposition to an assault weapons ban.
That opposition gives progressives extra leverage because then the rule would only pass on a party-line vote. And given the narrow majority in the House, Democratic leaders can only afford to lose four Democratic votes on a party line measure.
Progressive lawmakers are confident they have the votes to block a vote on police funding laws, the two senior TBEN officials said. A senior aide to a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who is not on the TBEN agreed.
With victory in their grasp, the three aides said they are speaking out anyway because they don’t want to be unfairly blamed for obstructing an assault weapons ban. Progressives instead are calling for a stand-alone vote on the assault weapons ban, which would result in swift passage in the House.
“For some reason, the leadership really wants this… [federal police funding] bills need to be passed, so they’ve linked them to the assault weapons ban,” said the senior aide to a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who is not on the TBEN. “If this deal falls apart, they will claim progressives are responsible for failing to vote on assault weapons. This is incorrect.”
In addition, since the assault weapons ban is virtually guaranteed not to pass in the Senate, progressives envision a nightmare scenario where they get virtually nothing in return for their consent. By helping to pass a rule that would allow a vote to ban assault weapons, they paved the way for bills that increase police funding and pass Republican votes in the House and Senate.
Meanwhile, the assault weapons ban and other progressive public-security bills that were put to the vote thanks to their cooperation would never become law anyway.
Progressive lawmakers believe House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her deputies are pushing a vote on these bills at the urging of Democrats on rocking chairs. The predominantly centrist Democrats in these fringe seats want extra protection from Republican charges of being gentle on crime.
Democratic leaders are also responding to signals from President Joe Biden. Last week, Biden explained a plan for public safety that proposed providing funding for another 100,000 police officers.
But progressives note that the House has already voted to pass microchip legislation designed to give vulnerable members a tangible victory.
They fear House Democratic leaders are using the TBEN, which has moral authority over policing, to discipline progressives and marginalize the most devoted members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
“They’re following the demands of people like Josh Gottheimer and using the TBEN to do that,” the first senior aide told a TBEN member. “It’s manipulative.”