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House Dems Back Down on 'Trayvon Amendment' Designed to Punish 'Stand Your Ground' States

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"Political theater"

Trayvon Williams

The Washington Post is reporting that Democrats have halted their efforts to pass a "Trayvon Amendment," after they learned that it would be considered out of order under the evening's rules for debate on the House floor.

The controversial bill was designed to punish or pressure states that have "Stand Your Ground" laws by docking roughly 20% of their money under the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, which provides some $370 million to fund a wide array of programs that include law enforcement, drug treatment, jails and prosecutor's offices.

"Stand Your Ground" laws -- which allow residents to use force when attacke without first retreating -- have come under heavy fire after Trayvon Martin's death at the hands of George Zimmermann in late February.  Some allege that Zimmerman would have been arrested far sooner, or punished more severely, if Florida's laws had been different.

(Related: ‘Let’s Kill That MF’: Read the Shocking Tweets Calling for Violence After Zimmerman Posts $150,000 Bail)

The Washington Post explains:

Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat, said he will still try to force a debate at a more "appropriate" time in the future, saying action is demanded by the case of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who police said was shot dead in a street encounter with a neighborhood watch volunteer.

[...]

"Shoot-first laws make prosecutions harder because they presume the use of deadly force is reasonable," Mr. Ellison said on the House floor Tuesday...

However, Politico maintains that the authors of the amendment knew it had zero chance of passing in the Republican-dominated house.  Rather, progressives just wanted to put lawmakers in a position where they would have to choose “whether they want that law, or the appropriate level of public safety funding.”

“I think that’s a position they need to be put in and that they should have to explain to voters why are these laws more important than police funding," the communications director for Raul Grijalva, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, continued.

Business Insider dubbed the amendment "political theater."

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