WPRI 12 News Washington DC Bureau

‘If you don’t think it’s right, make it better’: Senate at a stalemate over police reform bill

Washington DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ As protests demanding police reform continue across the country, in Washington, Senate Democrats have blocked a Republican police reform bill, saying that it doesn’t go far enough.

Democrats are now backing a bill sponsored by Sens. Kamala Harris, D-California, and Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, that mirrors the “Justice in Policing” act the Democrat-controlled House is likely to approve as early as Thursday.

“[Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell’s bill didn’t incorporate any of the major reforms that certainly I have been calling for,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, said.

Gillibrand said among other issues, the bill failed to ban chokeholds and no-knock search warrants.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said the Republican bill only nibbled around the edges of a huge problem.

“Without any guarantee that Black Americans will not again ask us whether their lives are worth $20,” Blumenthal said, referencing the death of George Floyd which sparked outrage across the country.

On the Senate floor, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said the GOP plan did not have the support of any of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations.

“If this bill were such a good path to reform, why wouldn’t civil rights organizations from one end of America to another say, ‘Go forward,?” he questioned.

Republicans attacked Democrats for delaying action on police reform.

“Ironic given the weeks of rhetoric from leading Democrats about how very urgent it was for Congress to address police reform and racial justice,” McConnell, R-Kentucky, said.

The sponsor of the Republican bill, Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, said he told Democrats he was willing to work with them on the bill.

“If you don’t think it’s right, make it better,” he said.

But the measure failed to get the 60 votes needed to advance. If Republicans and Democrats can negotiate a compromise, the Senate could reconsider the bill later this week.

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