More than 70 House and Senate Democrats announced Tuesday that they will reintroduce a bill ending the federal death penalty, enacting one of President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign promises.
Spearheaded by incoming Senate majority whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) and democratic socialist congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), the bill would prohibit a sentence of death for any federal offender and require the resentencing of the 55 individuals currently on federal death row.
The move comes in reaction to the scheduled executions of three federal offenders later this week (one was stayed late Monday evening with an appeal pending to the Supreme Court), part of President Donald Trump’s first-in-decades slate of executions begun in July.
“There are three lives that hang in the balance this week alone,” Pressley told NPR. “And this is why we reintroduced this bill this week and are urging Congress to act immediately to pass it. State-sanctioned murder is not justice.”
But it also follows Biden’s call during the 2020 campaign to end the death penalty through legislation, making him the first president elected in the modern era who openly supports ending capital punishment. That makes the new bill a sign that Democrats see the death penalty as part of their agenda in the new term, a move likely to spark a heated national debate over the age-old punishment.