Senate Democrats likely to block GOP police reform bill
Democrats in the U.S. Senate are hinting that they will filibuster the Senate Republican police reform bill later this week.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would like to start a debate on the bill this Wednesday, but he needs at least seven Democrats to support opening the debate. Without allowing Democrats to amend the bill, McConnell is unlikely to find the votes.
“If nothing changes, I’m voting no. I need some assurances that we’re going to vote on amendments that will fix this bill. And it needs a lot of fixing,” said Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D).
Democrats largely oppose the bill which was written by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (R). They claim it lacks strong federal mandates needed to reform the nation’s police departments. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has called the bill deeply flawed.
“There’s no clarity in what we’re being offered,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin said. “I’ve faced similar offers in the past on coronavirus legislation, and the best thing that happened is we didn’t accept the leader’s offer. We demanded a bipartisan approach.”
Democrats have crafted their own police reform legislation. Lawmakers were forced to respond to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police after nationwide protests wreaked havoc on the country. With an election just four months away, neither party is likely to want to compromise.
For anyone who actually wants to legislate, it shouldn’t be a difficult call to advance the bill,” said McConnell. “I hope that whatever strange political calculations are making this difficult for our friends across the aisle will yield to common sense and to the American people’s hunger for progress.”
Democrats also are facing pressure from outside groups to vote against the Republican bill. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has said the bill does not go nearly far enough in holding police officers accountable.
The Senate Democratic Caucus met via conference call on Monday to discuss the bill and many in leadership said they would vote against advancing the bill including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D).
“I’m not going to vote on a half-ass bill,” said Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono.
In the House, Democrats are likely to pass their own police reform bill with no GOP support later this week.
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