Sen. Chuck Schumer—along with the co-authors of the Democrats’ policing reform bill, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris—has rejected the Senate Republicans’ efforts to put a toothless, sham policing reform bill on the floor, all but saying they will filibuster in a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell Tuesday. “Across the country, people of all races are marching together to demand a comprehensive
overhaul of our current system of policing and an end to the killing of Black Americans by police.
To begin to meet those demands, the Senate must move forward with meaningful reform,” they begin.
“We will not meet this moment by holding a floor vote on the JUSTICE Act, nor can we simply amend this bill, which is so threadbare and lacking in substance that it does not even provide a proper baseline for negotiations,” they continue. “This bill is not salvageable and we need bipartisan talks to get to a constructive starting point.” It’s hard to be constructive with Republicans who say crap like Schumer has said about a “chokehold” on the bill. A Republican actually said that about this dispute—Sen. John Barrasso from Wyoming. He likened Democrats’ efforts to make this bill mean something to the brutal police tactic that killed George Floyd. (A tactic which, by the way, is not banned by the Republican bill!)
As the Democrats point out: “[T]he JUSTICE Act does nothing to end harmful policing practices, like racial and religious profiling, no knock warrants in drug cases and the use of chokehold and carotid holds. If we are to meaningfully reform and reimagine policing, legislation must take on the harmful practices that have resulted in countless senseless tragedies at the hands of police.” That and four other glaring deficiencies are spelled out in the letter:
“There are no provisions to ensure that law enforcement agencies who engage in unconstitutional patterns and practices can be held accountable at the federal or state level; and there are no provisions to support independent investigations at the state level into deadly use of force by law enforcement officers. […]
“[I]n addition to lacking any accountability provisions, the JUSTICE Act does not provide the transparency into police misconduct necessary to ensure communities have access to the information necessary to hold their own law enforcement officers accountable. […]
“[I]t does not go far enough to ensure all of the necessary data is collected to enable Congress to conduct the necessary oversight and ensure communities are no longer roiled by the tragic killing of an unarmed individual at the hands of law enforcement. […]
“Finally, the JUSTICE Act does not create a national use of force standard. If we are to
fundamentally change the nature of policing in this country, we have to shift the paradigm of policing. Law enforcement officers’ use of force should be evaluated not on whether it was reasonable, but on whether it was necessary.”
The Democrats conclude that this “is a serious challenge requiring serious solutions. Bringing the JUSTICE Act to the floor of the Senate is a woefully inadequate response, and we urge you to bring meaningful legislation to the floor for a vote.” Republicans are thus far being insultingly, disgustingly tone-deaf and stupid. For example, this exchange between Texas Republican John Cornyn and Harris in which he unwittingly proved her and the Democrats’ point about conducting this process in a bipartisan way in the Judiciary Committee.
Cornyn, being potentially the dullest knife in the drawer of Republican knives, said that the Democrats’ position is “pathetic” and that they would leave the country “in the lurch” if they insist on following a regular, bipartisan legislative processes to make new laws. “The American people deserve better than a partisan stalemate. The American people deserve for the Senate to take up this issue at this time,” McConnell added. “Senate Republicans want to have this discussion. We’re ready to make a law, not just make a point.” Except for the part where they’re not having a discussion. They’re setting up a process of maybe allowing Democratic amendments, if they can get 60 votes, on a piece of legislation that will do nothing to answer the demands of the overwhelming majority of Americans.