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House Democrats pass police reform package

House Democrats passed a package of bills on Thursday involving changes to policing and public safety. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/af88ed72b2bfe0b58ca513f500b7a5f9/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
House Democrats passed a package of bills on Thursday involving changes to policing and public safety. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 22 (UPI) -- House Democrats Thursday passed a package of new bills that would fund recruitment and training for police departments across the country, and includes new language for police accountability.

Early in the day a procedural vote on the bills narrowly passed 216-215, after a group of progressive Democrats objected to providing more funding to police departments.

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Democratic Reps. Cori Bush, Mo., Jamaal Bowman, N.Y., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, Mich., joined Republicans in voting against the measure. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., voted present.

Later in the day the package passed by wider margins, according to ABC News. It now heads to the Senate.

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"The Invest to Protect Act will ensure that local police departments across our country have what they need to recruit and retain the finest officers, to provide necessary training, and to invest in providing mental health resources for our officers," Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., said in a tweet.

One of the bills, sponsored by California Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, would create a grant program for departments to hire and dispatch mental professionals instead of law enforcement officers when incidents involve behavioral health needs.

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Another bill provides funding to police departments with fewer than 200 officers and also allows the funding to be used for data collection about police and community safety.

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Despite being one of the harshest critics of policing, Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar provided a key vote in favor of the package.

The package, she said, according to ABC News, is "evidence-based, holistic legislation that addresses public safety and unifies the Democratic Caucus."

"After significant, deliberate negotiations, we are pleased to share that ... the bill will include a number of reforms to ensure funds are used to support smaller police departments, to invest in de-escalation and other important training, and for data collection and mental health," Omar and Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said in a joint statement.

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