The Democrat-led US House of Representatives passed a sweeping policing reform legislation largely along party lines, in the wake of a national outcry against police brutality and racism after the killing of an unarmed black man by a Minneapolis police officer.
The bill, titled George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, was named in honour of the 46-year-old African-American man who pleaded “I can’t breathe” before dying in police custody on May 25, reports Xinhua news agency.
His death has prompted weeks of protests and civil unrest in at least 140 cities across the US since then.
The bill was passed in a vote of 236-181 on Thursday night, with three Republicans crossing party lines to vote on the Democratic side.
It came a day after Senate Democrats blocked a competing Republican version on a key procedural vote and is not expected to be taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Under the House legislation, chokeholds and no-knock warrants would be banned for all federal law enforcement agencies and a national registry of police misconduct will be set up and maintained by the Department of Justice.
The bill will also make it easier to both prosecute and sue individual police officers in cases of misconduct.
Before the vote on the steps of the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “Exactly one month ago George Floyd spoke his final words, ‘I can’t breathe’, and changed the course of history.
“When we pass this bill, the Senate will have a choice: to honour George Floyd’s life or to do nothing.”
“To the protesters: we hear you, we see you, we are you,” the report quoted House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries as saying in a speech on the floor just before the vote.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already shot down the House’s plan, calling it an overreach and said it will not advance in the Senate.