All five of Alabama’s Republican members who were present in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday voted against the police overhaul bill pushed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Democratic leadership.
Representative Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) voted in favor of the bill, as did every House member in her party. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Saks) did not record a vote on the measure. The five who voted “no” were Reps. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), Gary Palmer (R-Hoover), Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) and Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope).
The legislation, H.R. 7120, passed the Democrat-controlled chamber 236-181. Three moderate Republicans voted in favor as did libertarian Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI).
The proposal is almost certain to be blocked or significantly amended by the Republican-controlled Senate, where Democrats have blocked consideration of a more measured police reform bill primarily authored by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC).
The Democrats’ bill in the House would, as summarized by CBS News, “ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug cases and reform qualified immunity, making it easier to pursue claims against police officers in civil court.”
Byrne, Palmer and Brooks issued statements decrying the legislation; calling it “Frustrating” a “poor solution” and arguing it would “undermine law enforcement.”
Both Byrne and Palmer are co-sponsors on the House version of Senator Scott’s JUSTICE Act.
Palmer specifically mentioned opposing the Democrat bill’s revoking of qualified immunity.
He stated, “Few people want to serve in a job in which they are attacked, underpaid, and overworked, and even fewer want to serve in one in which they could be charged as a criminal besides.”
Byrne commented of the legislative process behind the Democrats’ bill, “It is frustrating and incredibly disheartening that Democrats refused Republicans’ offer to work together to achieve the bipartisan, meaningful reform Americans are calling for. Americans of all colors deserve our sincere efforts, not more partisan pandering. Instead of holding empty votes on legislation that has no chance of becoming law, Congress should seize this moment to move forward on the many areas of bipartisan agreement. It is not too late to do the right thing.”
Palmer’s statement also mentioned the Democrats’ tactics, saying, “The Democrat leadership claimed they wanted to come together with Republicans to craft a bill for sensible law enforcement reforms, yet they did not allow a single Republican to give input on this bill. Moreover, the Democrats rejected every Republican amendment, including those that would have strengthened the bill.”
Brooks opposes both the Republican and Democrat-backed police reform bills, saying that they both “undermine local and state government control over a local and state government problem.”