Republicans to introduce House version of Scott police reform bill

Greg Nash

House Republicans are planning to introduce a companion bill to Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) police reform legislation, multiple senior GOP sources confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday.

The Scott bill is set to be unveiled in its final form on Wednesday and comes in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis police custody.

Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), who previously served as a police lieutenant before being elected to Congress, is expected to introduce the House version of the bill.

The GOP bill comes as House Democrats prepare to mark up their own sweeping legislation in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

The Democratic bill is expected to pass along party lines in its current form, which GOP lawmakers have blasted as a messaging bill.

That legislation, drafted by top members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), would among other provisions ban chokeholds, limit the use of no-knock warrants and make it easier to take legal action against law enforcement.

“We think that Democrats are being short-sighted in the degree to which they’re wedded to their formulation of solving this problem when in reality I think we all want to get to the same solution, just improving policing in America,” one senior GOP aide told The Hill.

“But for Republicans, we want to make sure that it doesn’t hamper law enforcement, or disincentivize people from wanting to do the hard work that is police work — that’s really important to us.”

The source said Republicans are also expected to attempt to amend the Democrats’ bill in committee in addition to introducing the Scott legislation.

Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, met last week with Scott – the Senate’s sole black Republican – to discuss potential proposals.

“I think he rightfully places an emphasis on, number one, on more training and more accountability for law enforcement. There’s a big emphasis on like body cameras and information so that we have more statistics,” the senior GOP aide said of the Scott bill, adding it “makes really meaningful” changes to policing.

While the GOP bill is expected to include a number of the provisions seen in the House Democrats’ bill, Republicans have voiced concerns with language in the bill related to qualified immunity, which shields police offers from lawsuits.

GOP lawmakers have also expressed concerns over whether a national police misconduct registry provides enough due process for law enforcement officials, and they have reservations about lowering the “mens rea” standard in U.S. code to prosecute officers.

Another area Republicans want to make changes is with no-knock warrants, with the GOP aide saying they want to address them “in a more sophisticated way.”

“The simple reality is Republicans control the Senate and the White House, and Tim Scott is serious about reform,” the aide said. “[House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold] Nadler’s (D-N.Y.) bill has things in it that go too far. If they just wait a little bit we can have a real bill, not a messaging bill.”

In addition to the companion legislation to Scott’s bill, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) is slated to introduce legislation to address the use of excessive force by police officers, one senior GOP lawmaker told The Hill. 

President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday to provide federal funding for police departments to boost training on de-escalation tactics — including a ban on chokeholds with the exception of when he said an officer’s life is in danger — and to provide improvements to the government’s ability to track officers with a history of using excessive force. 

Tags Donald Trump Jim Jordan Pete Stauber Steve Stivers Tim Scott
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video