Scott sets July deadline for passing police reform

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) arrives for a vote on July 13
Greg Nash

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) on Tuesday set a new deadline for police reform legislation to pass through Congress, telling reporters that he hopes a package is approved by the end of the month.

“I don’t think we can do this, after this month, if we’re not finished,” Scott told reporters, according to Axios.

When asked if the upper chamber needs to have the bill passed with bipartisan support by the end of the month, Scott responded “That’s what I would hope.”

An aide to Scott later clarified to Axios, however, that the senator’s intention was not to suggest that negotiations for a police reform package will end if a bill is not passed by the end of the month. The aide stressed Scott’s use of the word “hope” to the news outlet.

Negotiations for a bipartisan police reform package have stalled as the two parties remain at odds over a number of contentious issues.

One of the main sticking points throughout negotiations has been qualified immunity, the doctrine that protects state and local government officials, including law enforcement, from liability in civil suits unless they violate a person’s clearly established constitutional rights.

Democrats want to nix the legal principle, while Republicans are pushing for it to remain intact.

Scott, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the chief negotiators for the package, announced last month that they “reached an agreement on a framework” to address the major issues involving police reform.

The lawmakers cautioned, however, that “There is still more work to be done on the final bill, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.”

“Over the next few weeks we look forward to continuing our work toward getting a finalized proposal across the finish line,” they wrote.

The final outline of the bill, however, remains unclear.

The House in March passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act with no Republicans on board. The legislation, however, has since been embroiled in negotiations.

Scott upped the pressure on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) to make police reform a top priority, telling reporters “Schumer runs the floor, and they tell me the floor time is nearly impossible right now and to make that dream a reality,” according to Axios.

He said he thinks the coalition of negotiators has made progress this week, according to the news outlet. The group is reportedly set to speak again on Tuesday.

“We’re now swapping language on that on that text,” Scott said, according to Axios. “Of course, there are outlier issues that you have to figure out how to solve, but there are a number of pieces of the legislation that we already agree in concept and now we’re writing it out.”

The senator said the negotiators met his previous “June or Bust” deadline, because it was for “getting us to the place where we actually agree on the principles of the framework of the legislation.”

“Now the question is getting all that into language. Anyone who’s been around for any amount of time realizes that you don’t do anything in this body in two or three weeks, especially on something that can be transformative,” he added.

Tags Chuck Schumer Cory Booker Karen Bass Tim Scott

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