- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Sen. Tim Scott on Tuesday said Democratic leaders are telling their troops to block procedural action on a policing overhaul bill in an effort to keep the issue hot ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

“I have been hearing from the leadership, my friends and senators on the Democrat side say that their leaders do not want them to sign on,” Mr. Scott, South Carolina Republican, said on Fox News.

“It appears to me that if they follow their leadership, we will not have any discussion on the bill at all because they believe that police reform is a better election-year issue than police reform is an issue to be solved for the vulnerable communities that started this entire discussion,” Mr. Scott said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has teed up an initial test vote on Mr. Scott’s policing overhaul legislation for Wednesday morning.

But it will take support from at least seven Democratic senators to overcome a potential filibuster. Some Democrats have indicated they’re skeptical that Mr. McConnell will allow a “fair” process and full debate on amendments after the test vote.

“I’m open to an amendment process that improves the bill as long as we don’t demonize police officers along the way,” Mr. Scott said.

Mr. Scott is spearheading legislation that would incentivize police departments to ban the use of chokeholds and ramp up requirements for law enforcement to report on use of force and “no-knock” warrants.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer has said Mr. Scott’s bill is inadequate but has not indicated definitively whether he will try muster support to block debate.

House Democrats are pushing their own bill, slated for a Thursday vote, that explicitly bans chokeholds, creates national standards on use of force, and sets up a national registry for police misconduct.

The House bill also opens up officers to civil lawsuits if they violate individuals’ constitutional rights by ending a practice known as “qualified immunity.”

Sen. Mike Braun, Indiana Republican, is rolling out separate legislation that would limit qualified immunity, even though the White House and some Republicans have blanched at rolling it back.

He said on Tuesday that if Senate Democrats block debate this week it doesn’t necessarily mean the issue is dead.

“That’s when I think you’ll start seeing more Republicans come out, get out there talking about it like with what I’m wanting to do — Democrats as well — so that we don’t lose this watershed moment and we get something done,” Mr. Braun said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“What we see happen tomorrow I don’t think is going to be the end of the story, and if it is, I think it’s a mistake where we’ve lost a moment of opportunity,” he said.

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