The Senate on Tuesday rejected a proposal to impose strict conditions on the transfer of Defense Department military gear to civilian police departments through the 1033 program, as demanded by some anti-police activists.
The Senate voted 51-49 for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have scaled back the Pentagon’s surplus military equipment program, nine short of the 60 votes needed to pass. Instead, the Senate adopted an alternative amendment backed by Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, which adds restrictions to the program, but is less stringent and requires less oversight than the failed amendment, NBC reports.
The failed amendment, sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and three other senators including two Republicans, would have barred the transfer of tear gas, stun grenades, grenade launchers, tracked vehicles, firearms of .50 caliber or higher and ammunition of .50 caliber or higher, required more transparency on all transfers and obliged the Pentagon to take back the gear if it was used against protesters lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.
Sen. Inhofe’s alternative amendment, which passed 90 to 10, would require police forces that receive surplus military gear to train their officers on “respect for the rights of citizens under the Constitution of the United States and de-escalation of force.”
Inhofe’s amendment would bar transfers of grenades other than stun and flash-bang grenades, bayonets and “weaponized” tracked combat vehicles and armed drones.
Inhofe said the rejected amendment sponsored by Schatz would have gone too far and would have made the Pentagon program “virtually impossible to use.”