Wow a Republican Voted for the George Floyd Bill—Nevermind, Wrong Button

Rep. Lance Gooden voted for police reform. Except he didn’t.
March 4, 2021, 4:06pm
Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas, attends a House Financial Services Committee organizational meeting in Rayburn Building on Wednesday, January 30, 2019.

Rep. Lance Gooden has been in Congress for two years, but apparently he still hasn’t figured out which button to press when he votes. 

The Texas congressman was the sole Republican to support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the House Wednesday night on a mostly party-line vote. The bill would provide several police reform measures in the wake of high-profile police killings last year such as Floyd’s in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor’s in Louisville. 

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Gooden’s vote was a bit unexpected, as he’s been a hard-line and reliable pro-Trump conservative representing a district Trump won in 2016 by nearly 30 points.

It turns out the vote was unexpected for Gooden, too. 

“I accidentally pressed the wrong voting button and realized it too late,” Gooden wrote in a tweet that has since been deleted. “I have changed the official record to reflect my opposition to the partisan George Floyd Policing Act.”

Gooden’s vote didn’t alter the outcome of the vote, as it would have passed with majority support either way. On the flip side, two centrist Democrats, Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Jared Golden of Maine, voted against the bill — on purpose. In the end, it got 220 votes.

But even though it wouldn’t have changed anything, Gooden went as far as to submit an explanation to change “the official record,” and post a picture on Twitter, just in case anyone got any bright ideas. “I have arguably the most conservative/America First voting record in Congress!” he wrote. “Of course I wouldn’t support the radical left’s Anti-Police Act.”

The George Floyd Justice bill, a version of which was passed in the last Congress, would ban no-knock warrants and police chokeholds, establish a national database of police misconduct, and end qualified immunity, the legal principle which shields public employees such as police officers from being sued in civil court. The bill is the result of a push from activists following the high-profile police killings last year of Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville. (The murder trial of the ex-officer who killed Floyd, Derek Chauvin, is set to begin next week.) 

The previous version of the George Floyd bill didn’t receive a vote in the Senate last year, when the body was under GOP control, but likely will this time around. Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who has proposed an amendment to track police misconduct settlements, has said that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is “committed” to putting the bill on the floor this time around, according to Vox

The House bill has the backing of President Joe Biden. “Following Senate consideration, I hope to be able to sign into law a landmark police reform bill,” he tweeted last week.

But it faces an uphill climb in the Senate, where Democrats hold the narrowest of majorities but still need 10 Republican votes to avoid a filibuster.  Instead, Republicans have supported a far more narrow police accountability bill from Sen. Tim Scott, the chamber’s only Black Republican, which among other things wouldn’t ban chokeholds but rather try to disincentivize their use.