Amidst Vice President scrutiny, Kamala Harris leads charge against Republican police bill

The combative appearance of S Harris recalled on Tuesday the most memorable moments of her relatively short term as senator, including the observation of Trump appointees Bill Barr, Jeff Sessions and John Kelly, and the breakup with Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. during their confirmation hearings.

Again, it was the unscripted replicas that attracted the most attention. Before Harris could finish his speech, Cornyn, a member of the Judiciary Committee, interrupted to remind him that his anti-lynching legislation was part of the Republican reform effort.

He quickly rejected the idea of ​​using it as a bargaining chip and said, “It’s like saying to a mother, ‘Save one of your children and leave the others.'”

The showdown ended with a quintessential Harris moment, a short response stopping an opponent on the brink, which his Senate aides quickly shared on Twitter.

“Don’t you think that that kind of interaction, debate and negotiation in front of the 330 million Americans would be beneficial to heal our country and reach a consensus on what should be the appropriate reforms?” Cornyn asked.

“Indeed,” Harris replied, referring to his earlier criticism of the Republican Party process. “That is the beauty of the Judicial Committee. Our meetings are public meetings. “

While Harris and his party were beaten by the right after they went public with their opposition to even starting a debate on the floor over the Republican bill, their position is supported in the civil rights community.

“The black community is tired of lip service,” said Ben Crump, the prominent civil rights attorney representing George Floyd’s family. “Kamala has made changes in California by working within the system and coordinating with us who are not within. Now it is doing it nationally. “

Harris has not exactly emerged as a bipartisan negotiator in her short Senate career. She was one of three Democrats who opposed a centrist immigration compromise in 2018. But she backed the bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, and Booker defended her willingness to strike a deal with the Trump administration, even when the president has bragged about it regularly.

“How many things do you have to do to show that you are beyond politics when it comes to issues of racial justice?” Booker said.

Scott said that while he has been speaking frequently with Booker, he did not connect with Harris until a bipartisan meeting on Tuesday, approximately 24 hours before the next vote. Scott said he made no “discernible” progress.

“I have tried to touch base with her on several occasions. We’ve been messing around with the phone tag and the text tag and we’ve set up four different meetings that are still being canceled, ”Scott said. “She has not been a part of the conversations I have had.”

In addition to strong Senate votes, Harris has largely stayed with her husband in his Washington department since the coronavirus quarantines. A top contender to join Biden on the ticket, and the only black woman in the Senate, spent weeks focused on bills to help small businesses and address the health disparities of people of color in the midst of the pandemic.

But since the murder of Floyd by the police in Minneapolis fueled the movement around police accountability and racial justice, Harris has worked to become a key voice on the issues, appear in protests, and lead reforms.

Crump said he wants to see a black woman chosen as Biden’s No. 2, and Harris’ Senate resolution on police reform has only solidified his opinion of her.

“Kamala would be an outstanding vice president,” he said. “She has the right temperament. She has the sensitivity to listen when necessary, but to lead when it is required in important matters. ”

Her momentum has also earned some skeptics who saw her being too complacent to the police during her career as a state attorney and attorney general, and believe she wasted several opportunities to advocate for ambitious changes in those roles.

Negotiations over the fate of the Democrats’ police reform bill, which requires a ban on stranglings and no-hit orders and would make it easier to sue police officers accused of wrongdoing, again proved their liking for the award. This time, Harris ‘defense among Democrats in Congress was “central” to the Democrats’ approach, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) Said.

Harris, Booker and Schumer have been coordinating for weeks, since the Democratic bill was introduced and during the Republican Party’s implementation of its own legislation. Harris even criticized Scott’s legislation before it was introduced, proving that she decided early on that her approach did not achieve what was needed.

If Harris had chosen to weaken the Democratic bill, and then have brought his caucus, he would have faced considerable backlash from activists cautious of accepting what they see as a political showcase. At the same time, some Democrats said they were concerned about accepting something that would allow Trump to demand progress on the issue, albeit a modest one, at a crucial moment in his reelection bid.

“This is the floor. This is the least that can be done now, “said Lynda Garcia, director of the police campaign at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Garcia, a veteran of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said that for the outlined reforms to work, they must be enacted together. Still, she and others admitted that they are still concerned about not passing any legislation at a time when people are hungry for reform.

“There are people who think that making these kinds of changes has not yet reached the changes that should occur, such as [as] reducing the role of the police and moving them away from public health problems, “Garcia said.” But I do think there will be a lot of disappointment and a lot of discord if something doesn’t happen. “