‘Did I strike a nerve?’: Reps. Val Demings, Jim Jordan clash over support for police
A shouting match ensued between Reps. Val Demings and Jim Jordan during a House committee hearing on a hate crimes bill Tuesday. The representatives from opposing parties argued over using law enforcement for political gain.
Demings criticized a Republican amendment to H.R. 1843, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, to prevent defunding or abolishing police after Jordan, R-Ohio, dressed down Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. for calling the amendment irrelevant.
Demings, a Florida Democrat who was a police officer for nearly 30 years, called the amendment “completely irrelevant.”
“This is as relevant as it gets,” Jordan said. “Last week the Democrats started off the week with one of our colleagues from Detroit saying ‘no more policing.’ “
Last week, Michigan Democrat Rep. Rashida Tlaib posted a tweet saying, “No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed.”
The hate crimes bill, which calls for an expedited review of pandemic-era hate crimes against Asian Americans by the Justice Department, the establishment of an online reporting mechanism for state and local law enforcement agencies, and data collection and public reporting on hate crimes, does not propose defunding or eliminating police departments.
“I served as a law enforcement officer for 27 years,” Demings said. “It is a tough job, and good police officers deserve your support. It’s interesting to see my colleagues on the other side of the aisle support the police when it is politically convenient to do so.”
When Jordan attempted to interrupt, Demings asked, “Did I strike a nerve?”
“You and your colleagues should be ashamed of yourselves,” Demings shouted over Nadler’s gavel.
Nadler admonished members for “shouting out” when it was not their time to speak, but Demings and Jordan continued to shout over the chairman despite efforts to calm the chamber.
“This is emotionally charging for me because I was a law enforcement officer. I have watched them live and die and you know nothing about that,” Demings shouted at Jordan. “To utilize them as political pawns pisses me off.”
Nadler allowed Jordan to raise a point of order to respond to Demings, but soon cut him off after Jordan asked why his motives were being questioned.
“That is not a point of order,” Nadler said before granting Demings’ request to continue debating the amendment.
Here's what happens now that Derek Chauvin has been convicted on all counts in the murder of George Floyd.
The debate occurred on the day a verdict was reached in the Derek Chauvin trial. Chauvin, an ex-Minneapolis police officer charged with murder and manslaughter for killing George Floyd, was found guilty on all three counts.
A police reform bill, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, is named for Floyd. The bill cleared the House in March without Republican support, reflecting the partisan divide on policing legislation in Congress. In order to become law, the bill needs at least 10 votes from the GOP in the Senate.
Republican senators have expressed interest in some of the proposed reforms, such as banning the use of chokeholds. But the qualified immunity provision — a legal doctrine that protects officers from being held personally liable in civil court for killing someone — remains a point of contention.
Last week, Jordan got into a heated argument with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, during a House Coronavirus Crisis Subcommittee hearing. The Ohio Republican was admonished by committee Chairman Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. and was told to “shut your mouth” by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. after going over his allotted speaking time.
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