- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday brushed off Democrats’ concerns about proceeding with the Senate GOP’s police reform package this week, as the chamber heads towards an impasse on the issue.

Mr. McConnell said he doesn’t see any downside for Democrats if they allow the procedural vote to pass Wednesday, noting they have other options if they want to object to the process.

“I read that several of them said ‘We don’t trust Mitch McConnell.’ They don’t have to trust me because the way the process works is quite simple,” the Kentucky Republican said Tuesday. “It takes 60 votes to pass a bill like this in the Senate … if they don’t feel like they’ve had fair treatment, their remedy is to refuse to finish the bill.

“There’s literally no harm done by debating this important topic,” he added.

Republicans need at least seven Democrats to join them in order to get the package to a final vote, but Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said that’s not going to happen.

“Because the bill needs such large-scale and fundamental change, there is no conceivable way that a series of amendments strong enough to cure the defects in the bill could garner 60 votes,” the New York Democrat said on the Senate floor. “So no bill will pass as a result of this ploy by Senator McConnell.”

Earlier Tuesday morning, Mr. Schumer along with Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, the two lead senators on the Democrat bill, wrote to Mr. McConnell and called for a new start on bipartisan negotiations.

Sen. Tim Scott, the sole black Republican senator and lead on the GOP’s proposal, said the Democratic antics made him concerned a deal can’t be reached.

“Now if it’s more important for us to score political points and talk about the legislation and what’s missing and not actually come to the table to improve the legislation, [that] means we’re only talking about politics, and we’re not actually talking about human beings,” said Mr. Scott, South Carolina Republican.

“If they won’t even start it, that tells me that this is already over,” he added.

Republicans have said they’re open to an amendment process but want to ensure that police officers aren’t demonized.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose chamber is voting on its own police-reform legislation Thursday, last week signaled she would like to see the two competing packages go the traditional legislative route and for a deal to be worked out in conference.

“I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but Chuck Schumer ought to listen to Nancy Pelosi,” said Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican. “We have Chuck Schumer with a chokehold on the Justice Act and our opportunity for police reform in America.”

Republicans estimate that there is about a 70% overlap between their bill and the Democrats’ version.

Mr. Scott highlighted a few of the issues both bills had in common, including reporting requirements, a duty to intervene, and resources from the federal government.

He argued that even key differences in the bill — particularly regarding chokehold bans — are more similar than they appear.

“We’re deflecting by talking about the things that are dissimilar in the legislation, as opposed to talking about the things that are similar in the legislation,” Mr. Scott said. “Why would you not allow the stuff that you have in common to become a law, so that you have the data necessary to direct resources and training to de-escalate and keep more people around the country safer, including officers and the citizens that they protect?”

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