WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar is urging Congress to pass restrictions on no-knock warrants after the recent police shooting death of 22-year-old Amir Locke in Minneapolis.

Omar's office confirmed that the Minneapolis Democrat soon will introduce legislation on the issue amid questions over how elected officials are responding to the raid that resulted in Locke's death. The move comes as President Joe Biden's administration examines potential steps at the federal level.

"The message that we want to send is that this can't be a localized issue that gets addressed," Omar said. "Obviously, if we're having challenges in addressing this in one of the most progressive cities like Minneapolis, … I can't imagine what people are dealing with that live in areas where people are not even receptive to change, and so we have to try to do as much as we can on the federal level."

The latest tragedy happened less than two years after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police. While Floyd's death led to momentum in Congress for police reform, lawmakers in Washington failed to pass any legislation. Bipartisan talks fell apart in September. Calls for change are emerging once again as mourning over Locke's death continues.

"I am demanding that President Biden and everybody else, from the ground up to the top, ban no-knock warrants in the United States of America in the name of Amir Locke," Locke's mother, Karen Wells, said in a news conference Thursday at the State Capitol.

Any push for changes in Congress, however, risks the same fierce partisan divide that derailed police reform work last year.

"I support efforts to ban or severely restrict the use of no-knock warrants," Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith said when asked about Omar's proposed bill. "I see no hope that that kind of legislation is going to pass through the United States Senate given the current makeup of the Senate with our very, very slim 50/50 majority."

Democrats and Republicans in Congress have struggled to find common ground on police reform legislation in yet another example of the stark differences between the two parties. In the days after Locke's death, Minnesota Republicans in Congress largely were more reticent than their Democratic counterparts about sharing their thoughts.

Asked about Locke, GOP Rep. Pete Stauber, a former Duluth police officer, said he wouldn't comment.

"I don't have all the information," Stauber said Tuesday. "It would not be prudent because I don't know the particulars."

However, Republican Rep. Tom Emmer said in a statement that Locke's death "serves as yet another tragic reminder that elected officials at every level must adopt policies that help build relationships and trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve."

Emmer said such work should be "crafted in a manner that takes into account the danger our men and women in uniform face every day, while preventing events like this from ever happening again."

After Locke's killing, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced that he was instituting a moratorium to prevent officers from requesting or executing no-knock warrants. But he left open the possibility they could be used if there was "an imminent threat of harm to an individual or the public" and if the interim police chief approved.

Democrats at the State Capitol plan to introduce legislation this month to ban no-knock warrants under most circumstances, expanding regulations that were passed last year. One skeptic is Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, who chairs the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and is concerned it could make law enforcement's work more difficult.

But several GOP gubernatorial candidates, including two state senators, have called for a closer look at state law on no-knock warrants. Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, has signaled that such a conversation would take place this session.

Weighing federal action

U.S. House Democrats passed a sprawling police reform package last year that was met with strong GOP opposition. Despite Democratic control of Congress and the White House, Republican support was needed in the Senate because of the threat of a GOP filibuster.

During a recent zoom call with reporters, U.S. House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer noted the struggles that Congress has faced on the issue.

"These continuing incidents, such as you mentioned in Minnesota, cry out for action," Hoyer said, later adding that "hopefully, we can reach agreement. We have not been able to."

Minnesota Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar also said in a statement after Locke's death that "we need to reform the practice and proliferation of no-knock warrants, which has led to many unnecessary deaths, as has started to be done by the Department of Justice and the state of Minnesota."

The Biden administration has the ability to take steps, though only at the federal level. Noting Locke's death at a recent briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki pointed to a U.S. Department of Justice policy announced in September restricting the use of no-knock warrants by federal agents. She said that Biden "is examining the possibility of extending those restrictions to other federal agencies."

Smith, who lives in Minneapolis, said she will pursue completion of the Justice Department's investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department that was announced last April by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

"I'm expecting to talk with [the Justice Department] in the coming days to understand better the status of that investigation, which would get at the ways in which the Minneapolis Police Department specifically could be — in my mind is — violating people's civil rights," Smith said Wednesday.

"And that is an important way that the federal government can intervene and [make] sure that the right kinds of reforms are happening in the Minneapolis Police Department."

At a time when public safety is expected to be a campaign issue this year, it remains to be seen if the public response to Locke's death will lead to a shift on the federal level.

"Amir Locke should not be dead," Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips said. "We have significant systemic issues that have to be addressed. We have got to protect the public. We have got to protect the police, and we have got to protect suspects who are innocent until proven guilty."

At Thursday's press conference at the State Capitol, Locke family attorney Ben Crump said he talked with the head of the Congressional Black Caucus and several members of that caucus after Locke was killed.

He urged them to push the president to ban the use of no-knock warrants by federal officers and also support federal legislation.

"How many people got to die to get a law passed?" Crump asked.

Staff writers Jessie Van Berkel, Liz Navratil and Stephen Montemayor contributed to this report.