Senate GOP seeks to restrict use of chokeholds in police reform bill

Senate GOP seeks to restrict use of chokeholds in police reform bill
© Greg Nash

Senate Republicans will try to restrict the use of chokeholds in their forthcoming police reform bill by reducing funding for departments that don't ban the tactic. 

Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottLobbyists see wins, losses in GOP coronavirus bill Revered civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis lies in state in the Capitol GOP plan would boost deduction for business meals MORE (R-S.C.), who is spearheading the GOP proposal, told reporters that there was still a "tussle" over what Congress can or can't do to incentivize departments to stop using chokeholds but he expected the bill would address the issue. 

“We reduce funding for those agencies that do not have a ban against chokeholds. I’m not going to eliminate it all. We’re working through the legislation," he said.

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Police chokeholds have been in the national spotlight in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. 

Democrats introduced a sweeping police reform bill last week that would include a federal ban on chokeholds and tie law enforcement funding to state and local departments having laws in place prohibiting the use of the technique, according to a fact sheet from the House Judiciary Committee

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE is also expected to address chokeholds in an executive order that he will unveil on Tuesday, though Scott told reporters it would be "with a different bit of a spin on it" compared to the Senate GOP bill.

The provision in Scott's bill, which was first reported by The Associated Press, comes as he's preparing to unveil the legislation on Wednesday. McConnell told reporters last week that he had tapped Scott to lead a working group of GOP senators to craft a response to national calls for police reforms.

The bill, according to a draft version circulated last week, would, among other provisions, increase funding for police body cameras and penalize not wearing them by reducing grants. It would also tie grant eligibility to reporting uses of force that cause death or serious injury to the FBI and to states maintaining systems that share police records.

McConnell told members of his leadership team on Monday that he wants to vote on a police reform bill before the Senate leaves for a two-week recess starting on July 3.