Senate

Tim Scott says police reform talks collapsed with Dems over funding

GOP Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) said he believes months-long negotiations with Democratic lawmakers on a potential police reform bill collapsed because their proposals called for reducing funding to law enforcement. 

In clips from an interview with CBS News's Margaret Brennan released Saturday, Scott, who had been conducting talks with Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.) and Karen Bass (Calif.) for more than a year, said that many of their proposals would have required him to "agree to limited or reduced funding for the police." 

"We said simply this: 'I'm not going to participate in reducing funding for the police after we saw a major city after major city defund the police,'" Scott said. 

"We want the best wearing the badge, and we want the vulnerable protected," the Republican senator said. "So when you tie funding losses in this legislation, you should expect an allergic reaction from me."

The interview, additional portions of which will air during CBS News's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, comes after Booker announced in a statement on Wednesday that "after months of exhausting every possible pathway to a bipartisan deal, it remains out of reach right now." 

"Unfortunately, even with this law enforcement support and further compromises we offered, there was still too wide a gulf with our negotiating partners and we faced significant obstacles to securing a bipartisan deal," the Democrat explained. 

However, Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, told Brennan that it was Democrats who "left the table," arguing that his Justice Act "provided clear direction to improve the quality of the experience for the communities at risk and the law enforcement officers who patrol those areas." 

"When you tell local law enforcement agencies that you are ineligible for money, that's defunding the police, there's no way to spin that," he argued. 

Talks on police reform legislation surged in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, which fueled a wave of civil unrest across the country and calls for changes to policing practices. 

While the House has twice passed a sweeping bill named after Floyd that would ban chokeholds and "no-knock" warrants at the federal level, among other measures, the bill has failed to gain movement in the Senate in the face of a GOP filibuster.

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