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Tim Scott: Could be 'very hard' to reach police reform deal by June deadline

Tim Scott: Could be 'very hard' to reach police reform deal by June deadline
© Greg Nash

Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottKerry Washington backs For the People Act: 'Black and Brown voters are being specifically targeted' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain Black Republican advocates his case for CBC membership MORE (S.C.), the lead Republican negotiator on police reform, says it will be “very hard” to reach a bipartisan deal by the end-of-June deadline if senators working on the issue can’t get a proposal down on paper in the next week or two.

“For us to get where we need to go, there’s going to have to be paper. If we don’t have paper in the next week or two, I think [it] would be very hard for us to make a deadline that is June 28 … [or] whatever the last week we’re here,” Scott told reporters Tuesday.

Scott told reporters before the Memorial Day recess that “it’s June or bust” for getting a deal on police reform, which eluded negotiators last year during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests.

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But with lawmakers already in the second week of June and still deadlocked over how to handle key issues such as exposing police officers to civil liability and criminal prosecution, the prospect of a deal by month’s end appears to be slipping.

“The short answer is the immunity issue is still very important,” he said.

He also said “there’s a chasm” remaining between his bill, the Justice Act, and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, which Democrats support.

“So it’s a little more complicated than just the top four or five issues that we’ve been covering,” he said. “The devil in the details of the actual body of the pieces of legislation are complicated and there are very big differences.”

Asked why it’s taking so long to iron out the differences, Scott shot back: “Have you read the two bills? They’re long.”

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Much of the public attention has been on the partisan clash over some of the biggest proposed reforms.

Democrats want to make police officers individually liable for misconduct and lower the standard for criminal prosecutions from “willful” conduct to “reckless” conduct.

Republicans have so far resisted giving ground on the statute that sets the bar for criminal prosecutions of law enforcement officers.

Scott and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamProgressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC Senate confirms Garland's successor to appeals court Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema MORE (S.C.), another Republican negotiator, have proposed shielding individual police officers from getting sued but opening police departments and city managers to lawsuits for incidents that result in death of serious bodily injury.

Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassBlack Republican advocates his case for CBC membership Tim Scott: Could be 'very hard' to reach police reform deal by June deadline Police reform negotiations enter crucial stretch MORE (Calif.), the lead House Democratic negotiator, however, has insisted on the need to hold individual officers “accountable” by making them subject to lawsuits when they use excessive force.

Senators generally view police reform as one of the most promising areas for bipartisan compromise this year.

If a deal doesn’t get done this month, it may be difficult to keep senators’ focus on the talks as President BidenJoe BidenMellman: Trump voters cling to 2020 tale FDA authorizes another batch of J&J vaccine Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE’s infrastructure agenda begins to take more of the spotlight.

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerOvernight Energy: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process Wednesday | Bipartisan bill would ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics | Biden admin eyes step toward Trump-era proposal for uranium reserve GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' How Biden can get the infrastructure bill through Congress MORE (D-N.Y.) has said the Senate will take up infrastructure legislation next month, even though bipartisan talks between Biden and Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoGAO rules Biden freeze on border wall funds legal How Biden can get the infrastructure bill through Congress GOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning MORE (R-W.Va.) came to an end Tuesday.

A separate group of Republican and Democratic Senate moderates are ramping up their talks to reach a deal on a scaled-down infrastructure package, even though Biden has signaled he wants a package of at least $1 trillion, paid for in part by higher corporate taxes.