'Lazarus Moment' Coming for Police Reform in Congress? Karen Bass & Tim Scott Are Continuing Bipartisan Talks
Do you want Congress to reach a bipartisan compromise on police reform legislation?
by Causes | 7.13.20
What’s the story?
- While the initial effort to enact police reform stalled in Congress last month, the lead architects of the competing House & Senate bills have kept conversations alive that could yet lead to a bipartisan bill becoming law this summer.
- Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), the author of the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act, said he is working with Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) ― the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus who wrote the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act on finding a compromise.
- Bass recently traveled to South Carolina to meet with Scott about police reform. At a July 7th event in the Palmetto State in which Scott spoke on a panel with Attorney General William Barr, the senator said:
“Folks who are now calling me about the legislation from the other side suggest that perhaps it’s not dead. We may have a Lazarus moment. We may not. The more [Bass] has taken a look at the bill, the more she has suggested that perhaps half or two-thirds of a loaf might be better than none.”
- Scott indicated while the GOP is unlikely to agree to a complete removal of “qualified immunity” ― which shields police officers from civil lawsuits in cases where they allegedly violated a citizen’s rights ― he believes victims & families should be allowed to sue police departments & cities, but that there should be a “moat around the officer” to protect them from civil lawsuits. He also said the Senate may incorporate some of the House bill’s provisions related to the collection of data on racial profiling.
- For any compromise bill to become law, it will need enough support to pass the House with a simple majority, reach a 60-vote threshold in the Senate to defeat the legislative filibuster, and gain the signature of President Donald Trump. Scott spoke to the necessity of compromise between Democrats & Republicans at his event with Barr:
“If they don’t come to the table with that type of concessions made, that means that they’re more interested in winning elections than they are in police reform. The good news is the folks I’ve spoken to over the last three or four days are all at the table and they’re all Democrats who are interested in getting to a yes.”
What happened to the bills?
- Senate Democrats voted to block debate and the consideration of up to 20 amendments of their choosing to Republicans’ JUSTICE Act. The procedural vote was subject to a 60 vote threshold but failed 56-44, with only three Democrats ― Sens. Doug Jones (D-AL), Angus King (I-ME), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) ― joining GOP senators by voting in favor. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell changed his vote from “yes” to “no” so that he can potentially hold another procedural vote to start debate & consider amendments.
- On the other side of the Capitol, House Democrats were able to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in a 236-181 vote that went mostly along party-lines as only three Republicans ― Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Will Hurd (R-TX), and Fred Upton (R-MI) ― voted in favor. In addition to the lack of bipartisan support dooming its prospects in the Senate, the White House issued a veto threat against the House bill.
- What Are the Similarities Between the Democrats’ & Republicans’ Police Reform Bills?
- What Are the Major Differences Between the Democrats’ & Republicans’ Police Reform Bills?
— Eric Revell
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