Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer panned the newly introduced Republican police reform bill Wednesday, describing it as “ineffective” and in need of “serious improvement.”
“Hundreds of thousands of American protestors are not asking us to chip away around the edges … what’s clear is that the Senate Republican proposal on policing does not rise to the moment,” says Schumer.
The bill, also known as the Justice Act, is one of the most comprehensive Republican-led reforms on the issues of police misconduct. Changes include an enhanced database of past-offending officers, commissions to study the relationship between law enforcement and racial minorities, and a ban on chokeholds in most circumstances, among other measures. Republican South Carolina Senator Tim Scott led the task force on the bill and urged fellow colleagues to understand that it is “not a binary choice” between respect for police, and protection of black people. (RELATED: Sen. Dick Durbin Says Tim Scott’s Police Reform Bill Is A ‘Token, Half-Hearted Approach’)
Arguing that the Republican bill does not go far enough, Schumer highlighted differences between the Republican-led bill and the Democratic-led Justice in Policing Act, unveiled last week. Schumer criticized the bill for not banning all chokeholds, rather “only those that restrict air flow and not blood flow,” and making exceptions when an officer’s life is in danger. The “greatest flaw,” according to Schumer, is the lack of change to “qualified immunity,” a doctrine which allows breathing room for officers who make snap judgments in high pressure scenarios. Soon after his initial comments, Schumer doubled down in a tweet.
The vast majority of Americans from both political parties support far-reaching reforms.
The moment calls for bold action that the House and Senate Democrats’ #JusticeInPolicing Act delivers.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 17, 2020
Schumer’s criticisms cast doubt on whether the Justice Act will be able to reach the 60 votes necessary to begin a floor debate in a week. This is a move Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to support, stating in a press conference that “we’re serious about making a law here.”