Senate Republicans argue that Wednesday’s vote is a way to start the debate on police reform and that the process will allow for consideration of amendments. Democrats say there is no point in voting to advance a bill they consider fatally flawed and that it will not have the 60 votes necessary to pass the Senate.
Instead, Democrats are asking Republicans to return to the negotiating table to come up with a bipartisan solution that the Senate can vote on. The Senate minority is particularly frustrated that Republican leaders put the bill on the ground before holding any conversation to draft the plan or consider it in committee.
In a speech in the room, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Defended Scott’s proposal and accused Democrats of giving a “last minute ultimatum” by turning “this routine step into a partisan dead end. “
McConnell also objected when asked when he would re-file the bill after Democrats leaked it. “Well, we will let you know. It can be done under a motion to reconsider at any time, “he told reporters.
He added that he will file that motion after the vote, which will require him to change his vote from ‘yes’ to ‘no’. That will allow you to quickly mention it on the floor at any time this year if you wish.
Democrats say Scott’s bill is not kicking off and are highlighting opposition from key civil rights groups, including the NAACP and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
“I want to ask the American people, I want to ask the Republican senators, who is a better guardian of African American civil rights when it comes to police reform, the NAACP or Mitch McConnell,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN. Y.) asked in the Senate room the Wednesday before the vote. “If this bill were a good path to reform, why wouldn’t civil rights groups from one end of the United States to the other not say ‘go ahead, maybe we will do something?’ Because they know that the bill is a ruse and nothing will be done. “
Not all Senate Democrats will vote against moving the bill forward. Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) plans to vote in favor of the procedural vote. But Republicans need at least seven Democrats to reach the 60-vote threshold.
The Republican Party bill requires additional disclosures on the use of force, codifies the reporting requirements on the use of “warrants,” provides incentives for choke bans, and makes lynching a federal crime.
The Democratic proposal, led in the Senate by Senators Cory Booker (DN.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Would ban strangling and no arrest warrant in federal drug cases. It would also limit qualified immunity for police officers to make it easier to sue the police, something Democrats argue is key to holding police officers accountable for misconduct, but that most Republicans will not consider. The House will approve Thursday a comprehensive proposal for reform of the Democratic police.
Senate Republicans accuse Democrats of wanting to campaign on the issue and say that if they want to improve the bill, they can do so through the amendment process. In his speech Tuesday, Scott argued that the two proposals are not as far apart as the Democrats suggest. For example, he said, both sides want to pass anti-lynching legislation and provide training to reduce escalation.
“Why can’t both sides agree on a motion to proceed?” Scott asked. “If there is so much similarity in the underlying legislation, if we are all seeing the same images that we have all found unpleasant and incredible, why can’t we agree to address the issue substantively here on the world’s floor? The largest deliberative body?
Burgess Everett contributed to this report.