Senate

Schumer calls on McConnell to schedule vote on law enforcement reform bill before July 4

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Monday that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should bring up a law enforcement reform bill for a vote before the chamber leaves town for a two-week July 4 recess.

"Senate Democrats will be confronting and addressing all of these issues this week, and many of my colleagues will prepare legislative plans of action," said Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader. "We will propose and push for bold action. Leader McConnell, will decide whether or not the Senate will take any of that action."

"At this delicate time, the Senate should lead on these issues rather than aggravate the problem. Leader McConnell should commit to put a law enforcement reform bill on the floor of the Senate before July 4," he added.

The push for law enforcement reform legislation comes after the death of George Floyd during police custody in Minneapolis, which has sparked days of protests and riots around the country.

Some Senate Democrats have already signaled that they will propose legislation, or try to get specific language included in a larger bill, in response to Floyd's death.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on Monday detailed the framework of forthcoming legislation including making changes to federal laws on police misconduct, making changes to police training and policies and creating a national police misconduct registry to track when officers use force.

"Persistent, unchecked bias in policing and a history of lack of accountability is wreaking havoc on the Black community. ... There's no one singular policy change that will fix this issue tomorrow - we need an entire set of holistic reforms to improve police training and practices, and ensure greater accountability and transparency," Booker said in a statement.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) has also said that he will try to get an amendment included in a mammoth defense policy bill that would "discontinue the program that transfers military weaponry to local police departments."

Schumer added from the Senate floor on Monday that Congress should "reform our laws and our police practices."

"There is accountability when everyday citizens and protestors violate the law, but that same accountability is far too often lacking when the law enforcement violates the law. We have to fix that," Schumer said.

But he also indicated that Democrats could try to push for broader changes, including on housing, mental health and addressing larger racial disparities.

"The systemic racism and injustice that follows America around like a shackle in our laws, in our customs and in too many of our hearts. We have to make progress on these issues," he said.

Schumer's push for McConnell to bring a law enforcement bill to the floor comes as Republicans are facing questions over Trump's response to the protests, including a tweet last week where he seemed to push for shooting protesters who loot stores and destroy property.

Trump also told governors during a call on Monday that they should get tougher and "take back your streets." 

Schumer said Trump was struggling to "summon even an ounce of humanity."

"The president has reacted to the pain and anger in the country by playing politics and encouraging police to be tougher on protesters," Schumer said Monday.

"The president seems unable even to address the underlying issues that the protests are about. ... The president's policies have worsened racial divisions in this country. His rhetoric has consistently inflamed them," Schumer added.

McConnell has declined to weigh in on Trump's rhetoric. 

McConnell, during a floor speech, called the fallout from Floyd's death "an hour of great pain and unrest in our country." He also called for an end to riots around the country, noting that "if state and local leaders cannot or will not secure the peace and protect citizens and their property, I hope the federal government is ready to stand in the breach."

"We have real work to do to build constructive paths forward between law enforcement and affected communities. More violence and destruction is not just unfair to many innocent people; it also just makes this important work harder," he said.

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