WASHINGTON — The House passed legislation Thursday that would make it easier for prosecutors to seek the death penalty for cop killers.
The “Thin Blue Line” Act (H.R. 115) passed on the floor of the House, 271 to 143, and is expected to easily pass the Senate prior to going to President Donald Trump’s desk.
The bill, introduced by Florida Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, updates the federal criminal code to broaden “the list of statutory aggravating factors in death penalty determinations to also include the killing or attempted killing of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other first responder.”
The only mandate to seek the death penalty in such a situation, according to Buchanan, is if the homicide involves federal jurisdiction, like the “interstate homicide of an officer, or an officer killed on federal land, or while serving as part of a joint task force.”
Buchanan said in a statement, “Congress should do all it can to protect our police officers and first responders,” He added, “My bill makes sure that anyone who targets law enforcement officers is held accountable.”
House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Michigan Democrat, panned the bill saying on the House floor, “Though troubled and saddened by the recent attacks on law enforcement officials, I believe that H.R. 115, the ‘Thin Blue Line Act,’ is counterproductive to ensuring public safety and only serves to exacerbate concerns with the unfair and unjust federal death penalty.”