Democratic Senators have blocked a Republican police reform bill, leaving the legislation dead on the floor of Congress and likely defeating any Federal attempt to address police reform as a whole.
The bill failed before its text ever made it to the floor. Democrats were able to marshal their caucus to defeat a vote designed to bring the issue to the floor for debate and killed the bill 55-45. A total of 60 votes would have been necessary to move the bill forward.
“Republicans had 53 votes, but not enough Democrats joined them,” Fox News reports. Only Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), and Sen. Angus King (I-ME) crossed partisan lines.
Democrats fought the Republican bill, led by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), which they said did not go far enough in addressing critical issues at the crux of police reform. The bill did not ban the use of chokeholds outright, preferring instead to warn departments to craft their own policies against the practice or risk losing federal funds. The bill also shied away from outlawing so-called “no-knock” warrants, preferring instead to establish a national database to track those warrants’ use and abuse.
The House of Representatives, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), has its own bill which the Democratic caucus plans to bring to the floor there on Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was apoplectic about the situation in an interview that took place just after the procedural vote failed.
“The Senate was supposed to officially take up police reform on the floor today. Instead, our Democratic colleagues are poised to turn this routine step into a partisan impasse,” he told reporters, adding that the bill could have been the subject of debate and compromise, but Democrats refused to come to the bargaining table.
McConnell called Democrats’ strategy in proposing the bill “bizarre,” particularly given that they refused to even agree to debate the measure.
“They don’t want a debate, they don’t want amendments, they’ll filibuster police reform from even reaching the floor of the Senate unless the majority lets the minority rewrite the bill behind closed doors in advance,” McConnell said.
The lead up to Wednesday’s vote has been acrimonious, sometimes to a shocking degree. Speaking late Tuesday, Pelosi accused Republicans, including Scott — the first black man to serve in both the House and Senate — of “trying to get away with murder, actually – the murder of George Floyd.”
When pressed on the fact that her statement could be considered racially charged, Pelosi refused to apologize.
On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) attacked McConnell directly, warning the ranking Republican that he did not have “Civil Rights leaders” on his side.
Since it is unlikely that the Senate will take up any House bill on the issue of police reform, it’s likely that efforts have ended to pass federal legislation on the matter, despite a nationwide movement.
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