Senate Democrats Threaten To Block Republican Police Reform Bill

WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats said Tuesday they would block Republicans’ attempts to advance a narrow bill to change police practices, dismissing the measure as “woefully inadequate” and asking Senator Mitch McConnell to negotiate a more expansive one than both. parties can support.

His decision, outlined in a letter to Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican and Majority Leader, the day before a planned test vote on the Republican bill, reflected deep opposition to the move between Democrats and leaders. of civil rights, which have rejected the legislation. as an outdated and inadequate response to calls to address systemic racism in the police in the midst of a national protest for reform.

It also reflects a political bid by Democrats during the election year that more can be gained by blocking what they see as a fundamentally flawed measure, and blaming Republicans for the demise of police reform efforts, for trying to save it, which could provide coverage to Republicans in the eyes of voters who increasingly see the issue as more urgent.

“No bill will pass as a result of this ploy by Senator McConnell,” Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat and minority leader, said in the Senate. “The Republican majority gave the Senate a bad bill and did not propose any credible way to improve it enough.”

The Republican bill, spearheaded by Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only African-American member of the party in the chamber, is a very different proposition from the one proposed by Democrats in Congress. The Democratic bill is expected to pass the House on Thursday; Mr. McConnell has said that the package “is going nowhere” on his camera.

Mr. Scott’s bill would encourage state and local police departments to make changes, including limiting the use of bottlenecks and penalizing departments that do not require the use of body cameras, but would not alter the doctrine of immunity. qualified that protects officers from lawsuits or places any new Federal restrictions on the use of deadly force.

In Tuesday’s letter to Mr. McConnell, Mr. Schumer, along with Senators Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, co-sponsors of the Democratic bill, called the Republican measure “so threadbare and lacking in substance that it did. does”. it doesn’t even provide an adequate baseline for the negotiations. “

“We will not meet at this time holding a vote on the Justice Law, nor can we simply amend this bill,” they wrote. “This bill is not salvageable and we need bipartisan talks to get to a constructive starting point.”

Before the Democrats announced their stance, McConnell seemed to have anticipated what they would do, criticizing them for their political game.

“The American people deserve better than political stagnation,” McConnell said in his own Senate speech. “The American people deserve the Senate to address this issue at this time. Senate Republicans want to have this discussion. “

Ms. Harris said the blame for the jam fell on Republicans.

“Don’t let anyone dare suggest that we are hampering progress,” he said. “Let’s be clear about what is happening in politics right now: The Republican bill has been rejected to give voice to a problem without anything substantial that would have saved any of those lives.”

If Senate Republicans fail to muster the necessary 60 votes on Wednesday to advance the debate on Scott’s bill, it would be a major setback in efforts to enact reform this year that targets excessive use of force and Racial discrimination by the police, as protesters across the country continue to clamor for major changes.

The House is expected to pass its own police law on Thursday, the most expansive police intervention that lawmakers have proposed in recent memory, that would change qualified immunity, raise the bar for the use of deadly force, facilitate follow-up. and police misconduct prosecution, and is designed to compel departments to eliminate the use of bottlenecks.