WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats said Tuesday they plan to block a vote on Republican legislation to reform police guidelines, calling it “irrevocably flawed” and setting a deadlock in the Senate on how to tackle police violence amid national protests. .
The Democrats’ decision to oppose the measure undermines plans for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, to hold a procedural vote Wednesday to debate the legislation. The measure needs the support of at least 60 senators to pass, which means that seven Democrats would have to join all Republicans.
But Democrats say they don’t believe President Donald Trump is willing to work toward a solution, and they are skeptical of McConnell’s intentions to move the Republican bill forward, speculating that he is making a half-hearted effort.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., who called the bill “deeply, fundamentally and irrevocably flawed,” said McConnell’s plan appears to be designed to remove the burden of dealing with reform. Police off the shoulders of Republicans by establishing a process that is guaranteed not to lead to successful legislation. “
Senator Cory Booker, DN.J., said: “You are setting this up for failure so you can check a political box.”
Booker and Kamala Harris of California, the two black Democrats in the Senate, helped write a version of the reform bill to be voted on in the House on Thursday. McConnell was asked in a letter Tuesday morning for “bipartisan talks to arrive at a constructive starting point.”
McConnell suggested he will move ahead with the vote on Wednesday independently, and told reporters that Democrats “don’t have to trust me when I say I want an open amendment process.”
“I am serious, but if you do not feel you have been treated fairly, your remedy is to refuse to finish the bill,” he said.
Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, said last week that she would support negotiating with the Senate after both houses vote on a bill in a conference committee. When asked why he does not support that process, Schumer said, “If you want to get to the conference, you need a bipartisan process to start, or you will never get to the conference. That is the flaw in McConnell’s proposal.”
Republican and Democratic bills are dramatically different. Unlike the Democratic version, the Republican bill does not require a total ban on strangulation or touch on the defense of qualified immunity, and would collect data on entries using “do not touch” orders rather than prohibiting them. The Democratic bill would ban no-touch orders.
“I think there will be a price to pay for it,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who is running for reelection this year. “I’m about to hold them accountable. I’m not about helping them out of the ditch they’ve gotten themselves into.”
Democrats were bolstered by support from civil rights groups, including the NAACP, which urged them not to move forward on legislation they consider inadequate.
Civil rights groups said in a letter that the Republican bill “does not respond to the demands of decades of accountability and police reform.”
“At this time, we cannot support legislation that does not incorporate a robust accountability framework for police officers and other law enforcement officials who engage in misconduct and who need reform in police practices,” the letter continued. .
As both sides tightened their positions Tuesday, a bipartisan group of six senators who have been instrumental in crafting each party’s legislation: Republicans Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida and the Democrats. Booker, Harris and Dick Durbin of Illinois. met behind closed doors.
Booker said it was just a conversation and that the conversations had not been formalized in a bipartisan task force.
Meanwhile, Indiana Republican Senator Mike Braun introduced legislation that would reduce the defense of qualified immunity for police officers, a reform that most Republicans do not support.
Braun said in an interview that Republicans are “a little shy about what we want to do” regarding police reform. “If we want to do something that is going to change the dynamic, I think we have to have a discussion about qualified immunity,” he said.
Frank Thorp V contributed