Shamelessly denying Republicans the 60 votes needed to openly debate a GOP-proposed bill, Senate Democrats stripped Americans of the opportunity to pass meaningful reforms for an issue that’s turned the nation upside down.
The vote, which occurred last week, provides further evidence that the ongoing riots and protests aren’t about George Floyd or police reform. They’re about control.
The media, for its part, hardly cared. They enabled obstruction while hardly pressing Democrats to explain their objections.
“Tim Scott’s bill is a half-assed bill that doesn’t do what we should be doing, which is doing honest police reform,” Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono offered.
The “watered-down policing bill is meant to derail meaningful reform,” said California Sen. Kamala Harris.
“The Republican bill is really just disastrously weak,” said Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Truly, a remarkable statement about her colleagues in Congress.
The Truth About GOP Police Reform
Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, led the GOP police reform effort. Scott is the first black man to ever serve in both chambers of Congress, and his voice has been a rare bright spot during the protests and accompanying violence.
To accuse him of “half-assing” the measure is patently dishonest. To accuse him of “trying to get away” with the murder of George Floyd is stunningly gross.
Scott knows first-hand “the delicate and weak relationship” between the communities of color and the police. While discussing his bill during a 12-minute PBS News interview that MSNBC and CNN would never air, Scott talked about being stopped by police “seven times in a single year,” including for the crime of “driving while black.”
“I understand the pain and the frustration that comes with that,” he said.
Instead of focusing on issues such as qualified immunity that divide Republicans and Democrats, Scott focused on reforms that both sides agree on and a vast majority of Americans want. His bill, the JUSTICE Act, disincentives police chokeholds, collects data on no-knock warrants and makes lynching a federal crime. It uses federal grant dollars as leverage to encourage these reforms, while simultaneously respecting the reality that policing ultimately falls under local and state control.
After Senate Democrats blocked the legislation from debate, he asked, “Why can’t both sides agree on a motion to proceed?”
“If there’s that much commonality in the underlying legislation, if we’re all watching the same pictures that we have all found disgusting and unbelievable, why can’t we agree to tackle the issue in a substantive way here on the floor of the world’s greatest deliberative body?”
The answer is obviously politics. Democrats don’t want to lose police reform as a campaign issue, and knew that with a friendly press, their obstruction would go unnoticed.
Knowing this, Scott did everything possible to facilitate a conversation, even offering Democrats the ability to consider “at least 20 amendments” to his bill. Of course, it wasn’t enough.
“Don’t let anyone convince you this was about debates or amendments. It’s about politics, and a refusal to find a solution,” Scott tweeted after the vote. “Because I realized…it wasn’t what was being offered today…it was who was offering it.”
It’s a shame to see a sensible solution get slandered and derailed. It’s even more of a shame to see the motives of Sen. Scott get smeared. Meanwhile, woke protesters continue their cry for police reform. If only they knew that just last week, the opportunity for change was in their hands, and it was Democrats who closed the door.