House Republicans and Conservative Dems Celebrate National Police Week with Right-Wing Messaging Bills

Jonathan Cohn
6 min readMay 19, 2024

This past week was National Police Week, and the US House of Representatives celebrated in their favorite way: passing a series of right-wing messaging bills.

Border Fear-Mongering

The House voted 223 to 185 for a racist, fear-mongering resolution about the “border crisis” that blames Biden for the “tremendous burdens” law enforcement officers face.

15 Democrats voted for it: Yadira Caraveo (CO-08), Angie Craig (MN-02), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Don Davis (NC-01), Sharice Davids (KS-3), Jared Golden (ME-02), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-34), Josh Harder (CA-09), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Val Hoyle (OR-04), Susie Lee (NV-03), Mary Peltola (AK-AL), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03), Hillary Scholten (MI-03), Eric Sorensen (IL-17).

Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) voted present.

Writing Right-Wing Talking Points into Law

The House voted 254 to 157 to pass a Republican messaging bill (“Police Our Border Act”) to require the Attorney General to submit a report to Congress on the impact of the “Biden border crisis” on law enforcement officers at the Federal, State, local, and Tribal level.

As Minority Whip Katherine Clark noted, the bill tries to codify Republican talking points and skew the framing of the report, and terms like “Biden border crisis” are never even defined.

45 Democrats shamefully joined Republicans in voting for it:

Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06) put forth an amendment to strike the line “The southwest border crisis created by the Biden Administration has made every state a border state” as well as all mentions of “Biden” throughout the text.

It failed 197 to 213. 6 Democrats joined Republicans in voting against it: Yadira Caraveo (CO-08), Angie Craig (MN-02), Jared Golden (ME-02), Jeff Jackson (NC-14), Mary Peltola (AK-AL), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03).

Undermining Gun Safety

The House voted 221 to 185 to extend active and retired law enforcement officers’ ability to carry a concealed weapon to school zones, playgrounds, and government buildings. It would force private citizens to allow concealed carry on their property and undermine states’ ability to create gun-free zones and control who can conceal carry in sensitive areas.

16 Democrats joining Republicans in voting for it: Colin Allred (TX-32), Nikki Budzinski (IL-13), Troy Carter (LA-02), Angie Craig (MN-02), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Don Davis (NC-01), Jared Golden (ME-02), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-34), Josh Harder (CA-09), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Greg Landsman (OH-01), Stephen Lynch (MA-08), Mary Peltola (AK-AL), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), and Emilia Sykes (OH-13).

Preventing DC from Passing Its Own Laws

The House voted 225 to 181 to pass a wildly reactionary, fundamentally anti-democratic bill to take away DC’s power over its own sentencing laws.

18 Democrats joined Republicans in voting for it:

Undermining the Judicial System

The House also voted 265 to 148 for a xenophobic bill to require that any immigrant who is present in the United States without admission or parole, and who is charged with or even merely arrested for assaulting a law enforcement officer, would automatically become subject to mandatory detention by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

To be clear, the charge of assaulting a law enforcement officer is widely abused because there is no requirement that there be any harm, and it can be used to ratchet up charges against someone. Even worse here, the bill requires detention regardless of the outcome of the judicial process. It completely eliminates the ability of a court to decide whether anything even happened.

Jerry Nadler (NY-12), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, explained the problems with the bill well in his minority dissent:

Because the bill is so broadly drafted, people who pose no real danger to law enforcement could be subject to mandatory detention. The bill does not include any requirement that the assault actually cause harm or provide any fail-safes for someone who is arrested and then never charged, or who is charged and is later exonerated. Without any limitations, this could lead to absurd results, in which an individual with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is subject to mandatory immigration detention even if they did not commit a crime.

For example, in February, a group of Venezuelan migrants allegedly assaulted some police officers in Times Square in New York City.\2\ A large number of Venezuelan men were arrested in connection to this crime. One individual was photographed making a lewd gesture to news cameras as he left his arraignment, an episode that received much attention in the right-wing media.\3\ However, on March 1, charges against that specific individual were dropped.\4\ He was not even at the scene of the incident, so he was wrongfully arrested and charged.\5\ This is a perfect example as to why this bill does not work — if it was in effect, this individual, despite his innocence, would have been subject to mandatory immigration detention.

Shamefully, 54 Democrats joined Republicans in voting for this:

Blaming BLM for the Murder of Cops

At the end of the week, the House voted overwhelmingly for a shameful resolution that blames anti-police-brutality activists and bail reform for the murder of cops.

Whereas, beginning in 2020, and in conjunction with the “defund the police” movement, respect for the rule of law and law enforcement officials diminished;

Whereas this change in attitude has resulted in record death and injury to America’s law enforcement officers at the Federal, State, local, and Tribal level;

Whereas policies implemented at several State and local jurisdictions have increased the difficulty and added significant risks for law enforcement to do their jobs effectively and safely….

Whereas the lack of accountability for violent criminals with decreased penalties and no-bail policies has opened the door for record criminal activity in cities across the country;

Whereas these policies have encouraged the public to aggressively and violently engage with law enforcement;”

It passed 337 to 61, with Democrats voting for it by more than 2 to 1.

Only 61 Democrats voted against it:

Hiring More Cops

The House voted 370 to 18 to expand the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant program to support recruitment efforts by law enforcement agencies, relying on a false idea that hiring more cops is necessary for public safety.

12 Republicans (opposed to additional spending) and 6 Democrats (opposed to expanding police departments) voted against it.

The 6 Democrats were Summer Lee (PA-12), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Delia Ramirez (IL-03), and Rashida Tlaib (MI-12).

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Jonathan Cohn

Editor. Bibliophile. Gadfly. Environmentalist. Super-volunteer for progressive campaigns. Boston by way of Baltimore, London, NYC, DC, and Philly.