Senate Reaches Impasse on Police Bill, Opening Door to Bipartisan Negotiations
WASHINGTON – A policing reform bill proposed by the Senate’s lone Black Republican failed to garner enough votes to pass on Wednesday after Senate Democrats said its proposed reforms didn’t go far enough in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and other African Americans at the hands of law enforcement.
The vote was 55-45, failing to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to advance.
Two Democrats, Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, along with Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, voted with Republicans to open the debate.
But minutes before the vote was taken, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he was praying for the bill’s failure, “so we can start on the path of bipartisanship.”
That call seems to have been heard by Sen. Tim Scott, the South Carolina Republican who authored the bill.
“If you don’t think we’re right, make it better, don’t walk away,” Scott said.
The bill Scott crafted, known as the Justice Act, would create a national database of police use-of-force incidents, restrict police chokeholds and set up new training procedures and commissions to study race and law enforcement.
The package is not as sweeping as the one the House plans to vote on Thursday. Among other things, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 would hold police liable to damages in lawsuits.
Law enforcement and business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have urged both parties to find common ground.
Neither bill goes as far as some activists want with calls to defund the police and shift resources to other community services.
After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lambasted the Democrats, accusing them of engaging in “political nonsense.”
But in a noteworthy move, before the vote ended, McConnell changed his vote to no, a procedural move that will allow him to bring it back for reconsideration.
He also vowed to try again, saying he hopes to pass legislation before a July 4 recess.
Americans “deserve better than a partisan stalemate,” McConnell said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also indicated she is eager to enter talks with the Senate, yet another sign party leaders in both chambers believe a compromise bill is possible.
In The News
WASHINGTON — Emergency expansions to Unemployment Insurance provided critical support to workers across the country during the early months of the pandemic. But the major component of these expansions, an additional $600 in weekly benefits, expired at the end of July. With lawmakers continuing to be... Read More
WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday dodged a question on whether he will bring a motion to vacate to remove Speaker Nancy Pelosi from her post, an effort the Freedom Caucus was urging him to pursue. “I do not want Nancy Pelosi to... Read More
WASHINGTON — House Democrats’ plan to vote on legislation decriminalizing marijuana before the November election went up in smoke Thursday, as leadership decided to postpone consideration of the measure amid concerns about the political optics. Some of the more moderate Democrats in the caucus, including ones... Read More
WASHINGTON — Some House Democrats are keeping pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring a new coronavirus relief bill up for a vote next week as they look to signal to voters that the party is pursuing a deal to bolster the economy. Pelosi said... Read More
WASHINGTON — Florida Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott want to make sure there is plenty of time for wasting away again in Margaritaville in the sunlight this winter. If they get their way, revelers in Key West, Florida, where Jimmy Buffett and the Coral... Read More
WASHINGTON - Tom Wickham is stepping down as parliamentarian of the House of Representatives at the end of the month, and will be replaced by Jason Smith, his current deputy parliamentarian. In announcing the change, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., described Wickham, who is only the... Read More