A Republican policing reform bill hit a roadblock Wednesday as Senate Democrats blocked it, leaving the parties to decide whether to negotiate a compromise or walk away despite public outcry over the killings of black Americans.
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.
Ahead of the vote, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said, “My hope, my prayer, is that after this bill fails today… we can start on the path of bipartisanship.”
The GOP’s Justice Act is seen by Republicans and Democrats as a starting point in the broader debate over how best to change policing practices as protests in cities large and small focus on law enforcement and racial injustice. It 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.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is going after Senate Democrats who blocked his bill that offers solutions for police reform in America.
“If you don’t think we’re right, make it better, don’t walk away,” Scott, one of three black senators, told his Democrat colleagues on Wednesday.
“I offered Democrats the chance to offer AT LEAST 20 amendments. They walked out. #JUSTICEAct,” he tweeted.
The South Carolina senator said when it came down to it, it wasn’t about debates or amendments.
“Don’t let anyone convince you this was about debates or amendments. It’s about politics, and a refusal to find a solution,” he tweeted.
Rev. Johnnie Moore tweeted a critique of the blockade from Democrats, saying, “Inexcusable for @SenSchumer to play politics with police reform by blocking debate on @SenatorTimScott ‘s bill. Let’s be clear: he is blocking it only b/c Tim Scott is a Republican. He’d rather not have reform. Shame. Shame. Shame.
Meanwhile, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) says the Left is actually working to inflame divisions rather than bringing solutions and healing.
He recently blasted Senate Democrats from the floor of the US Senate saying, “Our voters sent us here to make things better. To rebuild. To heal. But that’s not what we’re doing. No, for the last several weeks, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and their allies in the media, and some professional political activists on a payroll, have been trying to divide us against each other, to paralyze us, to stoke resentment of our fellow citizens and hatred of this nation that we all call home.”
Hawley said the other side of the political divide is essentially stoking another Civil War. “You’d think the way some in the media talk about this country that they’re sad we’re still not fighting the Civil War. They would like us to fight a new civil war in our culture, day and night, without end.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also criticized Democrats as engaging in “political nonsense.” Still, he vowed to try again, hoping to pass legislation before a July 4 holiday recess. McConnell switched his vote to “no”, a procedural move so he could swiftly bring it back for reconsideration.
The House is set to approve the Democrats’ version of the bill later this week. The two bills, the House and Senate versions, would ultimately need to be reconciled to become law.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated she is eager to enter talks with the Senate, a potential signal that the door is not closed to compromise.