Schumer blocks resolution opposing calls to defund police

Schumer blocks resolution opposing calls to defund police
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBuild Back Better Is bad for the states  Dole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Biden points to drug prices in call for Senate social spending vote MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday blocked a resolution opposing calls to "defund the police," arguing that it was "rhetoric" when the country wants "action" following George Floyd's death.

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonGOP senators introduce bill targeting Palestinian 'martyr payments' White House announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics Demand Justice launches ad campaign backing Biden nominee who drew GOP pushback MORE (R-Ark.) tried to pass the nonbinding resolution by unanimous consent, which allows one senator to block it. The resolution also calls for "justice" for Floyd. 

"We must reject radical proposals to dismantle and defund police departments as some suggested. ... Defunding the police would be deadly. It isn't a solution but an insult to good officers and a threat to law-abiding citizens," Cotton said from the Senate floor.

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Schumer, however, objected, saying the GOP resolution was "rhetoric, not action."

"The great worry so many Americans have is that so many on the other side will feel rhetoric and then try to let this go away. We demand action, and we demand it now. Real action, not rhetoric," Schumer said.

"The resolution by my friend will do nothing. Nothing. It is rhetoric," he added.

Schumer instead tried to pass a resolution that would require the Senate to take up the Democratic police reform bill as soon as it passed the House. But Cotton, who is viewed as a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, objected, saying that he was "mystified" by the Democratic leader's strategy.

"I just say again that what we're seeing here is the Democratic leader apparently objecting on behalf of the Democratic Party in defense of the radical idea that we should defund the police," he added.

Some activists have called to "defund the police" following Floyd's death, though congressional leadership and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse passes 8B defense policy bill House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE moved to squash those calls this week.

Republicans view calls to defund the police as prime political fodder, with both congressional campaign arms using it to target Democrats this week. Several GOP senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer tees up key Thursday vote on debt deal House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Ky.), have also played up the issue in their public comments.

Congressional Democrats, however, are hoping to keep the focus on a sweeping police reform bill that would, among other provisions, establish a federal ban on chokeholds, eliminate the legal shield protecting police from lawsuits and mandate the use of body cameras nationwide.