Earlier today I wrote about Nancy Pelosi’s claim that the Republican police reform bill in the Senate was tantamount with trying to get away with the murder of George Floyd. That statement came in advance of a filibuster today to prevent passage of the motion to proceed on the bill. The vote did take place and, as expected, Republicans fell a few votes short of the 60 needed to move forward.
Afterwards, Sen. Tim Scott, who has led the push for the GOP bill, gave a lengthy speech about what had just happened. In his view, it’s clear that the objections Democrats had to the bill were never sincere. As he put it, “The actual problem is not what is being offered it is who is offering it.” He went on to say that Democrats were clearly worried that Republicans might be seen as responsive to the issues of black voters. And that’s something they don’t want the country to see.
Sen. Scott explained how every time Democrats brought an objection to him he offered an amendment to fix the problem and promised to support it. “Sen. Schumer sent a letter telling…Sen. McConnell there are five things in the legislation that needed to be improved,” Scott said. He continued, “I said lets give them the five amendments. I sat down with more Senators and they said ‘Wait, wait! It’s not just five, there’s twenty.’ I said how about twenty amendments. And they walked out.”
A bit later he added, “Their answer to me was ‘You can’t offer us 20 amendments…because Mitch McConnell won’t give you 20 amendments.’ I spoke to Mitch McConnell, he said ‘You can have 20 amendments.’”
Sen. Scott gave examples of some of the specific objections Democrats made to his bill. For instance, they said his bill didn’t collect enough data on police use of force. Scott’s response was, “Put it in an amendment and I’ll support it.”
“They said we need you to ban no-knock warrants because of the Breonna Taylor situation. I said ‘Uour bill does not ban no-knock warrants for the Breonna Taylor situation. Your bill bans it for federal agents.’ There’s not a secret service agent showing up at Breonna Taylor’s door. That was a local police department. So the fact is they are saying they want to ban no-knock warrants knowing they cannot ban no-knock warrants tells me that this is not about the underlying issue.”
There was a similar argument involving chokeholds. “They said you don’t ban chokeholds. I was like, I could have sworn I banned chokeholds in there somewhere. And then I read the bill. They don’t ban chokeholds on the local level or the state level. Do you know why? There’s this little thing called the constitution. They can’t ban chokeholds. Eric Garner’s situation would not have been cured by their ban on chokeholds because their ban on chokeholds were for? Federal agents.”
Eventually, Sen. Scott said it dawned on him what the real problem was. “I finally realized what the problem is, Mr. President. The actual problem is not what is being offered it is who is offering it. Took me a long time to figure out the most obvious thing the room,” he said.
“I believe if we’d gotten on the bill we would have passed this bill. But that is the problem by the way,” Scott said. “What I missed in this issue is that the stereotyping of Republicans is just as toxic and poison to the outcomes of the most vulnerable communities in this nation. That’s the issue.”
Sen. Scott said it was clear that Democrats had decided to punt the issue until after the election rather than accept 80% of what they wanted now. “Why wouldn’t you take the 80 percent now, see if you can win the election and add on the other 20 percent?…Because the who matters. They cannot allow this party to be seen as a party that reaches out to all communities in this nation.
“And unfortunately, without the kind of objectivity in the media that is necessary to share the message of what’s actually happening no one will ever know…If you don’t see it on TV on MSNBC or CNN it must not be true.”
“Let me tell you what the biggest threat is. The biggest threat is that this Republican party keeps showing up and delivering,” Scott said.
He concluded his remarks saying, “All these cities could have banned choke-holds themselves. They could have increased police reporting themselves. They could have more data information themselves. The could have deescalation training themselves. They could have duty to intervene themselves…All these communities have been run by Democrats for decades. Decades!”