If only woke protesters knew how close they were to meaningful police reform

If only woke protesters knew how close they were to meaningful police reform
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Shamelessly denying Republicans the 60 votes needed to openly debate a GOP-proposed bill, Senate Democrats stripped Americans of the opportunity to pass meaningful reforms for an issue that’s turned the nation upside down.

The vote, which occurred last week, provides further evidence that the ongoing riots and protests aren’t about George Floyd or police reform. They’re about control. 

The media, for its part, hardly cared. They enabled obstruction while hardly pressing Democrats to explain their objections. 

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"Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottClyburn predicts Supreme Court contender J. Michelle Childs would get GOP votes Sen. Tim Scott rakes in nearly million in fourth quarter These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 MORE's bill is a half-assed bill that doesn't do what we should be doing, which is doing honest police reform," Hawaii Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats, poised for filibuster defeat, pick at old wounds  Schumer prepares for Senate floor showdown with Manchin, Sinema Dems worry they'll be boxed out without changes to filibuster, voting rules  MORE (D) offered.                            

The “watered-down policing bill is meant to derail meaningful reform,” said California Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisClyburn predicts Supreme Court contender J. Michelle Childs would get GOP votes Hispanics sour on Biden and Democrats' agenda as midterms loom Officer who directed rioters away from senators says Jan. 6 could have been a 'bloodbath' MORE (D).

"The Republican bill is really just disastrously weak,” said Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D).

These statements were only to be outdone by House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Republicans bash Democrats' China competition bill Man seen wearing 'Camp Auschwitz' sweatshirt on Jan. 6 pleads guilty to trespassing Democrats should ignore Senators Manchin and Sinema MORE, who unapologetically accused Senate Republicans of “trying to get away with murder, actually — the murder of George Floyd.”

Truly, a remarkable statement about her colleagues in Congress.

The truth about GOP police reform

Sen. Tim Scott, (R-S.C.) led the GOP police reform effort. Scott is the first Black man to ever serve in both chambers of Congress, and his voice has been a rare bright spot during the protests and accompanying violence. 

To accuse him of “half-assing” the measure is patently dishonest. To accuse him of “trying to get away” with the murder of George Floyd is stunningly gross.

Scott knows first-hand “the delicate and weak relationship” between the communities of color and the police. While discussing his bill during a 12-minute PBS News interview that MSNBC and CNN would never air, Scott talked about being stopped by police “seven times in a single year,” including for the crime of “driving while black.”

 “I understand the pain and the frustration that comes with that,” he said.

Instead of focusing on issues such as qualified immunity that divide Republicans and Democrats, Scott focused on reforms that both sides agree on and a vast majority of Americans want. His bill, the JUSTICE Act, disincentives police chokeholds, collects data on no-knock warrants and makes lynching a federal crime. It uses federal grant dollars as leverage to encourage these reforms, while simultaneously respecting the reality that policing ultimately falls under local and state control.

After Senate Democrats blocked the legislation from the debate, he asked, “Why can’t both sides agree on a motion to proceed?” 

If there’s that much commonality in the underlying legislation if we’re all watching the same pictures that we have all found disgusting and unbelievable, why can’t we agree to tackle the issue in a substantive way here on the floor of the world’s greatest deliberative body?

 The answer is obviously politics. Democrats don’t want to lose police reform as a campaign issue and knew that with a friendly press, their obstruction would go unnoticed. 

Knowing this, Scott did everything possible to facilitate a conversation, even offering Democrats the ability to consider “at least 20 amendments” to his bill. Of course, it wasn’t enough.

“Don’t let anyone convince you this was about debates or amendments. It’s about politics, and a refusal to find a solution,” Scott tweeted after the vote. “Because I realized...it wasn’t what was being offered today...it was who was offering it.” 

It’s a shame to see a sensible solution to get slandered and derailed. It’s even more of a shame to see the motives of Sen. Scott get smeared. Meanwhile, woke protesters continue their cry for police reform. If only they knew that just last week, the opportunity for change was in their hands, and it was Democrats who closed the door. 

Kelsey Bolar is a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Forum.