WASHINGTON – Recent polls show a majority of Americans feel some sort of police reform needs to happen, but Senate Democrats aren't letting the debate move ahead. They just blocked a bill put forward by Republicans on Wednesday that aimed to fix key parts of the criminal justice system. They say it didn't go far enough, so they won't even let it come up for discussion.
"The Senate Republican Justice Act is lacking in substance and will not make the reforms needed," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) claimed.
He and the vast majority of Senate Democrats refused to sign on to debate the bill because they say they want more sweeping change, like a provision that would hold officers liable to damages and lawsuits, and other accountability measures.
Republicans say they would have a chance to amend the bill if Democrats would just allow debate on it, but Democrats say they don't trust that promise.
"I for one do not intend to be played," said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called that "nonsense".
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), one of three black US senators, wrote the bill. "You gotta be kidding me," he proclaimed after Democrats blocked the debate.
He accused Democrats of punting on the issue just so they can use it in the upcoming election. "Because the 'who' matters. They cannot allow this (Republican) party to be seen as a party that reaches out to all communities in this nation," he said.
Scott said Democrats are just abusing what he calls their "monopoly" on black voters.
"No matter the loyalty of the people, the return they get will always continue to go down because in monopolies you start devaluing your customer," said Scott.
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) co-sponsored the bill and also had harsh words for Democrats who opposed it.
"We were four votes short to opening debate to discuss it," he said. "Every single Republican voted for this and a handful of Democrats. But the vast majority of Democrats said, 'no, we don't want to debate this bill. We only debate the Pelosi bill when it comes out of the House.' Well, that's absurd."
Meanwhile, loved ones are burying victims of police-involved shootings. In Atlanta, Rayshard Brooks' family said their final goodbyes Wednesday. He was shot after resisting arrest outside a Wendy's restaurant.
"We've been through this journey so many times where we'll see a black man be killed and we'll all watch the footage and the whole country rises up and then Congress starts debating and then it stops – and it stops because of silly stuff like this," said Lankford.
The House is expected to pass its police reform bill, but Senate Leader McConnell has already given it a thumbs down, saying it goes too far.
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