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Jaime Harrison: GOP police reform bill 'doesn't go far enough'

Jaime Harrison, the South Carolina Democrat challenging Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLate donor surges push election spending projections to new heights Pence seeks to lift GOP in battle for Senate Wall Street backed Biden campaign with million in 2020 cycle: report MORE (R) this November, on Thursday panned the GOP’s police reform bill, which failed to pass the upper chamber a day earlier.

In an interview with The Hill, Harrison noted that the legislation, spearheaded by South Carolina Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottFrom HBCUs to Capitol Hill: How Congress can play an important role Democrats unveil bill to reduce police violence against people with mental illness Liberals should embrace Trump's Supreme Court nominee MORE (R), falls short on a slate of issues, including banning chokeholds and ending qualified immunity, the rule that protects officers with personal liability over use of force. 

“It doesn’t go far enough. You’ve got to ban chokeholds. You have to address the issue of qualified immunity. And I just don’t feel like they’re doing enough as it relates to those particular issues. You’ve got to address this issue of the militarization of our police force. We need a national use-of-force standard. We have to end cash bail,” he said. 

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National pressure on Congress to pass some kind of anti-police brutality legislation has ramped up in recent weeks after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis last month.

Demonstrators have taken to the streets demanding action, but Congress appears to be at a logjam. Democrats blocked the Republican legislation in the Senate on Wednesday, saying it did not go far enough and was unsalvageable even with possible amendments, with Republicans firing back with the accusation that Democrats are obstructionists. 

The House is set to pass Democratic-authored legislation on the issue Wednesday, but GOP leaders have declared that bill a non-starter in the upper chamber.

“What we see right now isn’t chaos. What we see right now is a community crying out in pain, and this is historic pain that’s been passed down from generation to generation to generation of folks. And people are just fed up, they’re saying, ‘enough is enough.’ We’re at a crossroads as a nation, and we’ve got to decide who and what we want to be,” Harrison said of the protests.

“What the people on the streets, what the people in communities are looking for is real solutions,” he added, “because we don’t want to be back here in five years, in 10 years, having the same types of conversations.”

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Harrison put the onus on Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to take further action to tackle racism and police brutality, saying his panel is in a prime position.

“This is a time when we would expect the chair of the Judiciary Committee to be standing up. But it seems like he’s ceding all of his authority. Why are there not hearings in the Judiciary Committee on these things, bringing in witnesses, families who have been affected by this, so that the American people can hear the full story of what has been going on and what is needed to address that,” he said.

“There’s so much that needs to be fleshed out right now, and I feel like what folks are looking at is putting some milquetoast legislation up and saying, ‘OK, we get it y’all, it’s done, let’s move on to the next thing.’ This is not a ‘let’s move on to the next thing,’ we really have to solve this,” he added. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing earlier this month on police reform, which included a panel on policing in the black community.

"I've learned over the years, but particularly recently, that every black man in America apparently feels threatened when they are stopped by the cops. It is not 99%; it's like 100%," Graham said at the hearing. "When I see a cop behind me, the first thing I think about is what did I do wrong, and can I talk myself out of this ticket? There is literally no fear. And I wouldn't like to live in a country where I'm afraid to be stopped."