The House overwhelmingly passed a resolution Wednesday urging local police forces to use body cameras, in the wake of several high-profile police shootings and nationwide calls for action to prevent police violence.
Though the measure is purely symbolic and passed with 421 "aye" votes, even one of its architects said he didn't think it had a good chance of coming to the floor. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri said he and the resolution's chief sponsor, Rep. Al Green of Texas, asked for a meeting with Speaker John Boehner a few weeks ago.
"We talked to him and said, 'Look, it would be good if Congress could do something to let the country know that the nation's legislative body is paying attention to what's going on and we have concerns about police safety and civilian safety,'" Cleaver said. "And he said, 'I agree.' I know most people probably wouldn't have expected that to be the outcome of the meeting."
Some Republicans in Congress have been reluctant to legislatively address the incidents in communities such as Cleveland, Ferguson, Missouri, and North Charleston, South Carolina. But Cleaver said he and Green, with the help of Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, crafted a resolution that could appeal to both Republicans and Democrats.
The resolution supports police in their "continued work to serve our communities" and "their use of body worn cameras."
"We were concerned—I think this will address part of the issue in Ferguson—that a lot of those young people in Ferguson are saying, 'All this tumult and confusion and no one is doing anything,'" Cleaver said. "So as we enter into torrid part of the summer, we wanted to be able to say, 'Hey, look, here's what we've done.'"
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Daniel Newhauser is a staff correspondent for National Journal, where he primarily covers the House of Representatives. He was formerly a House leadership reporter for Roll Call, where he started as an intern in 2010 and quickly earned a slot as a beat reporter.
A native of San Antonio, Texas, Newhauser traveled further West to study journalism at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and write for newspapers including the East Valley Tribune and the Green Valley News & Sun.