The House passed four bills Thursday authorizing grants for law enforcement hiring, training and mental health first responders after a close vote on a procedural hurdle that showed a division among Democrats on some policing and crime issues.
The measures would authorize grant programs for increased hiring in police departments with fewer than 200 officers, for local community violence interrupters, for increased technology in investigating violent crime and for grant programs funding mental health first responders.
Democrats pitched the bills as their effort to address rising crime nationwide while still supporting changes to policing policy, a balance the party has pursued for more than two years.
New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, argued in a floor speech that the bills would support more robust policing at the local level while addressing problems like police officers responding to mental health crises.
“Democrats also know that public safety and respect for civil rights can coexist,” Nadler said. “Building healthy and strong communities does not require us to choose between our rights and our safety.”
All told, the bills would involve nearly $2 billion in grant programs across the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services and Labor through 2029, if appropriators decide to fund them.
However, legislation on policing has faced stiff opposition in the evenly divided Senate, which is unlikely to take up any of the House-passed measures.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and other Republicans broadly painted the bills as political messaging ahead of midterm elections in which rising crime could drag down Democrats. Since Minneapolis police officers killed George Floyd in 2020 on a video that sparked protests nationwide, Jordan argued that Democrats backed efforts that undermined policing.
“It should also be no surprise that Democrats are now trying to run and hide from their radical ideas and dangerous rhetoric” on policing, Jordan said in a floor speech.