Senator Tim Scott, who is drafting police-reform legislation for Senate Republicans, said it’s important for the chamber to take a vote on the matter before the July 4 recess to get lawmakers on record and that “if it fails, it fails.”
Speaking to reporters in the Capitol, the Senate’s only African-American Republican also expressed some doubt that lawmakers in both parties could agree on final legislation designed to address civil rights concerns after the May 25 death of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police.
Massive demonstrations in the wake of Floyd’s death are putting pressure on Congress and local governments to scrutinize police departments and rapidly find ways to address police brutality, especially against African-Americans.
Scott, who represents South Carolina, said Senate Democratic leaders, by signing onto their own reform bill with House Democrats, have effectively indicated to their rank and file that they shouldn’t cooperate with Republicans.
“My understanding is that the Democrats have sent the signal that they’re not allowed to get on this bill, so it’ll be interesting to see how that works,” Scott said.
On Monday evening, senior administration officials said that
President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order on Tuesday that urges police departments to adopt stricter use-of-force policies. The order stands in contrast to the president’s previous actions to arm police departments and give them greater authority.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, has repeatedly called on Republican leaders to schedule a vote on policing changes before the chamber’s Independence Day recess. The Senate isn’t scheduled to return after that until the week of July 20.
Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Senate Republican leadership team, told reporters Monday that he doubts the Senate will take up legislation before the break, and to succeed it would be better to give it more time.
Blunt said if a debate took place before the recess, then it would likely be a failure, with “side by side” votes of the proposals from the two parties, with both unable to get 60 votes needed.
”Realistically, I think it will take longer than that to reach a conclusion,” he told reporters.
In the Democratic-led House, the Judiciary Committee this week will take up that chamber’s measure and there are plans for a full House vote next week.
The House bill would make it easier to prosecute and sue officers. It also would ban federal officers from using choke holds, bar racial profiling, end “no-knock” search warrants in drug cases, create a national registry for police violations, and require local police departments that get federal funds to conduct bias training and use de-escalation tactics.
Scott, who will introduce his legislation later this week, says he spoke with Trump on Sunday about his proposal although he provided reporters with few new details.
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