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Tim Scott describes run-ins with police in pushing for GOP reform bill

Tim Scott describes run-ins with police in pushing for GOP reform bill
© Bonnie Cash

South Carolina Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottDemocrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Pfizer unveils detailed analysis of COVID-19 vaccine & next steps GOP senators congratulate Harris on Senate floor MORE (R) described his encounters as a black man with police in an op-ed published Thursday in USA Today as the Senate considers police reform legislation.

Scott wrote that he, like other African Americans, "have found myself choking on my own fears and disbelief" during situations involving law enforcement in America.

"Even today, while I have the privilege of serving as a United States senator, I am not immune to being stopped while driving at home or even while walking onto the grounds of the Capitol. Each time, I hold my breath and each time, I have been able to exhale and go about my business. Thank God!" he wrote.

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Scott's status as the Senate's lone black Republican member gives him a unique perspective as a member of the chamber's majority party simultaneously facing the same calls for law enforcement accountability and reform that activists have demanded in the days following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, as well as other black Americans in encounters with police.

"Justice for all — it is something every American yearns for and that’s what I am committed to work toward. For the past five years, since the death of Walter Scott, I have been trying to pass legislation that would reform police departments across America. It is time that Congress provides the American people with solutions," Scott wrote.

Senate Republicans are pushing their own policing reform bill in response to a piece of sweeping reform legislation being advanced by House Democrats. Unlike the House bill, the Senate GOP's package would not ban the use of chokeholds by law enforcement outright, instead opting to make departments that allow the practice to be ineligible for federal grants.

The GOP bill would also not go as far as Democrats on no-knock raids by law enforcement; Republican members have sought to see use of the practice reported to the Justice Department annually by local police and sheriff's departments, while the House bill would ban such raids completely.