News and Commentary

Police Reforms So Important, Democrats Prepared To Wait Until Next Year To Enact Them
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) speaks at a Congressional Black Caucus press conference on Capitol Hill on July 01, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Democrats and progressive activists have been demanding reforms to America’s police departments, with thousands taking to the streets across the country to protest and riot.

Yet Democrats in congress seem to think these necessary reforms aren’t so urgent they can’t wait until next year, when the party hopes they will have control of the Senate and White House, The Hill reported.

House Democrats have proposed sweeping reforms that outright ban police chokeholds, create a national registry of alleged police misconduct (which could open the door for police getting wrongly punished for exaggerated or made up citizen complaints), among other reforms. Republicans in the Senate, by contrast, reject the draconian measures supported by Democrats while still wanting reforms, including federal incentives for reforms.

Instead of accepting Republican reforms that Democrats also want but they say don’t go far enough, the Left would rather wait until they may get everything they want, assuming that not only does former Vice President Joe Biden win the election, but Democrats regain control of the Senate by enough of a majority that they can push through whatever bills they want, as they could during the first two years of the Obama administration.

While Biden may win the election, the odds of Democrats winning that many Senate seats is pretty slim. The party may just do away with the filibuster in order to ram through legislation, however.

The Hill spoke to several Democrats who now support waiting until after the election to pass any police reforms, including Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), who leads the Congressional Black Caucus and is the lead sponsor of the House Democrat bill. Bass said last week that she was not even negotiating with Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who is the lead sponsor of the Republican Senate bill.

Other Democrats told the outlet they were preparing to wait until after the election.

“Rather than coming up with a piece of the police reform act … we should really push this over until after the election and move something that is much more powerful,” Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) said.

“We don’t want to make a mockery of this moment,” he added, according to The Hill. “We don’t want to see something passed into law that is weak, watered down and whitewashed.”

Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) was less adamant about waiting, but still said reforms may not be passed until next year.

“We’re steadfast in not allowing the Senate to dissect the bill,” she told The Hill. “It may be that we go into 2021, but I’m not prepared [to] say that that’s our strategy.”

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) suggested the reforms could wait because not much was getting passed anyway due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is not enough time to fix it this year,” Holmes told The Hill. “There’s an understanding well beyond me that you don’t need to get everything done this year in the midst of a pandemic when you’re not getting very much done anyway.”

As The Hill reported, the message from House Democrats now “belies the urgency of just a few weeks ago, when Democrats were hoping to seize the momentum generated by the massive protests that followed the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, in the custody of Minneapolis police on May 25.”

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