Senate Democrats say GOP policing bill needs to start over from scratch

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WASHINGTON — The path to any quick passage of a Senate policing overhaul got rockier Tuesday, with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer signaling Democrats’ willingness to block the measure unless their GOP colleagues start over with bipartisan negotiations.

“This bill is not salvageable and we need bipartisan talks to get to a constructive starting point,” Schumer, along with Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, said in a letter sent to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday.

McConnell, R-Ky., placed the bill on the Senate calendar last week, and teed up a procedural vote on Wednesday, requiring at least 60 senators to agree.

Democrats have been critical of the GOP plan led by Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, and have griped about being cut out of the process.

“Let us not retreat into partisan corners on such a vital issue,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “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, either. So no bill will pass as a result of this ploy by Sen. McConnell,” he added.

Booker urged his colleagues to “come together to protect people against indiscriminate violence” and ripped the GOP bill, dubbed the JUSTICE Act, saying that “it belies” its name.

Booker called the bill “impotent” and said it does not even serve as a starting point for a baseline of negotiation.

“It’s not bold, it’s not courageous,” Booker said of the GOP policing bill. If it passes in its current form, he said, “we will be back here again the next time another officer uses deadly force.”

Harris also criticized the bill and said on the Senate floor that she would vote against the motion to proceed to debating the GOP policing bill.

Rhetoric between the two sides escalated in recent days, as Democrats prepare to push their own measure through the House. That bill includes what Democrats say is stronger language to force state and local law enforcement departments to make changes.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, praised the GOP bill on the floor. He said Republicans are “ready to work with Democrats on police reform” and expressed hope that Democrats “finally are willing to come to the table.”Grassley said a successful vote to proceed on the GOP policing bill “speaks volumes.” He then warned, “a vote against proceeding shows the American people that politics are more important than people.”


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