Republican South Carolina Senator Tim Scott blasted President Joe Biden for allegedly ripping off key points of his police reform bill to score partisan points.
In a statement Wednesday evening, shortly after Biden signed an Executive Order establishing a series of strict police reforms, Scott said that Biden took critical pieces of the Executive Order from his own comprehensive police reform legislation, the JUSTICE Act, which stalled in the Senate in 2020 because of Democratic opposition. Scott said Biden’s Executive Order imposes mandates on local police departments without giving them additional funding to help them comply, setting the departments up for failure.
“After the radical ‘defund the police’ movement helped create the current crime wave, President Biden is pursuing a partisan approach to many of the exact same policy solutions I proposed in the JUSTICE Act just two years ago,” Scott said in his statement. “The fact is Democrats used a filibuster they call racist to block my reforms that they’re now embracing. While my proposal added funding to help local law enforcement comply with higher standards, the Democrats’ proposal sets departments up for failure by issuing unfunded federal mandates. Making it harder for police to do their jobs to the best of their ability should be a nonstarter, yet that’s exactly what the Biden plan does. I’m disappointed that the president who campaigned on unity has once again fallen into the trap of divisive politics.”
Here are some of the key points of Biden’s police reform Executive Order, compared with items from Scott’s JUSTICE Act.
- Biden’s Executive Order instructs the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to convene an interagency working group to examine and reform Federal law enforcement recruiting and training practices, “with particular attention to promoting an inclusive, diverse, and expert law enforcement workforce.” In part, the working group must consider “the merits and feasibility of recruiting law enforcement officers who are representative of the communities they are sworn to serve (including recruits who live in or are from these communities)”; the JUSTICE Act would have required local law enforcement agencies “to hire recruiters and enroll law enforcement officer candidates … who have racial and ethnic demographic characteristics similar to the community.”
- Biden’s Executive Order creates a “National Law Enforcement Accountability Database,” which includes official records documenting officer misconduct and criminal actions, as well as commendations and awards; Scott’s legislation would have done the same.
- Biden’s Executive Order creates a “National Use-of-Force Data Collection” database, which accounts for instances of death or injury due to use of force, and discharges of a firearm, among other items; Scott’s bill would have done the same.
- Biden’s Executive Order bans federal law enforcement chokeholds: the JUSTICE Act would also have banned chokeholds at a federal level and restricted funding for local police departments who did not have a prohibition on chokeholds.
- Biden’s Executive Order instructs Federal law enforcement to create clear guidance on use-of-force standards; the JUSTICE Act would also have incentivized training in alternatives to use-of-force and de-escalation training.
- Biden’s Executive Order imposes restrictions on federal law enforcement agencies from enacting no-knock warrants, and requires them to report no-knock warrants carried out; Scott’s bill would have done the same, for federal, state, and local governments.
Scott introduced the JUSTICE Act in June of 2020 in the wake of protests over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Forty-eight Republican senators co-sponsored the legislation.