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Daily Skimm: Taking Action, COVID-19 Updates, and an Astronaut's New First

Democrats from the House and Senate kneel in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds to honor George Floyd.
Getty Images
Jun 9, 2020

Taking Action

The Story

Yesterday, Democrats unveiled what could be the most sweeping overhaul of federal policing laws in decades.

Let's get right to it.

It's called the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 and it's meant to reform the roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the US. Before introducing it, some Dems and members of the Congressional Black Caucus knelt, and held a moment of silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds – the amount of time now-fired police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on George Floyd's neck. Then they got into the bill.

What's in it?

A few things. It would ban police chokeholds. And prohibit no-knock warrants in drug cases, like the one used when Breonna Taylor was killed. The bill would also create a registry to track records of officer misconduct, discipline, and termination. House Dems also want to lower the standards for "qualified immunity" – which broadly protects officers from civil lawsuits. And give the Department of Justice more powers to investigate police misconduct. And, for the first time ever, lynching would be made a federal crime – a measure that's previously stalled in Congress.

What are people saying?

Some Republicans reportedly felt they were left out of the conversation in this bill, and are working on police reform legislation of their own. Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's campaign said he "supports the urgent need for reform." And believes more funding is needed for things like body cameras and community programs. But he came out against defunding the police – something recent protests have called for. It's an issue that this bill doesn't cover, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said decisions to defund the police fall on states and cities, who set their own rules for law enforcement.

So what's next?

The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on police brutality tomorrow – when George Floyd's brother, Philonise, is expected to testify. The Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee have also called for their own hearing next week. While House Democrats hope to pass the bill by the end of this month, it's unlikely to pass in the GOP-led Senate.


Weeks after protests first began, Congress is bringing forward sweeping legislation on police reform. But the effort could still remain stuck in limbo, as Republicans and Democrats hash out how to best address it.

And Also...This

What has updates on COVID-19...

The WHO. Yesterday, it said asymptomatic spread is actually "very rare." The org says more research is needed. But if true, it could revise earlier research (like from the CDC) that people without symptoms drive as much as 40% of transmissions. It could also mean governments and individuals may be able to better target their social distancing and contact tracing while getting businesses and economies back up and running. Speaking of...

The National Bureau of Economic Research. Yesterday, the org in charge of determining when the US is in a recession said 'we're in one.' And that the pandemic ended the US's longest expansion on record. But many economists think this recession won't be as long as the last one as states begin to reopen. Still, there's concern around reopening: a new study found that shutdowns may have prevented as many as 60 million infections in the US alone.

Psst…here's how recessions usually affect your wallet. And how things are playing out now.

Who's not talking…

North Korea. Today, the country said it was cutting off all communication with South Korea because it's allowed activists to fly leaflets criticizing the North Korean government over the border. But some experts apparently say North Korea may be trying to manufacture a crisis to put more urgency into inter-Korean talks. Leader Kim Jong Un's sister appears to be behind the move. South Korea said communication must be maintained and it'll keep working for peace.

Who people are remembering…

Bonnie Pointer. Yesterday, the Grammy winner and member of the Pointer Sisters died of cardiac arrest at age 69. The group was best known for songs like "Jump (For My Love)," "I'm So Excited," and "Neutron Dance." Her sister and fellow group member Anita Pointer called Bonnie her best friend and said "the Pointer Sisters would never have happened" had it not been for her. RIP.

What Virginia's getting rid of...

Its slave auction block.

Who's taken another 'giant leap'...

This astronaut.

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