With only three exceptions, Democrats in the Senate voted to block a police reform bill championed by Republican Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) from being debated in the Senate. Although 55 senators — all Republicans, plus Democrats Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Doug Jones (Ala.) and independent Angus King (Maine) — voted to allow debate on the measure, the procedural vote required 60 “yea” votes to pass.
The result of the vote means that police reform legislation is likely stalled in Congress for the foreseeable future, even as the Democrat-led House debates its own measure. The bill in question would have required police departments to compile use-of-force reports and ban chokeholds in order to obtain full federal funding. It would also have imposed record-keeping requirements on departments that utilize “no knock” warrants, such as the one police utilized in the incident that led to Breonna Taylor’s death in Louisville, Kentucky.
Democrats opposed the bill because it did not address qualified immunity or ban chokeholds outright.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized the Democrats’ decision to not even allow debate on the measure, saying that the contentious issue of qualified immunity could have been debated and could have been inserted into the bill via amendment.
According to Fox News, McConnell said, “They don’t want a debate, they don’t want amendments, they’ll filibuster police reform from even reaching the floor of the Senate unless the majority lets the minority rewrite the bill behind closed doors in advance.”
In explaining why Democrats voted against allowing debate on the bill, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) claimed that the bill was the “legislative equivalent of a fig leaf, something that provides a little cover but no real change.”
The vote prompted a fiery response from Scott on the Senate floor:
Detroit. Atlanta. Minneapolis. Los Angeles. Philadelphia. All these cities could have banned chokeholds themselves. They could have increased police reporting themselves. They could have more data, information themselves. They could have de-escalation training themselves. They could have duty to intervene themselves. Minneapolis as well. All these communities have been run by Democrats for decades. Decades! What is the [return on investment] for the poorest people in this nation? And I don’t blame them. I blame an elite political class… I finally realized what the problem is. It’s not what is being offered, it’s who is offering it.
Senator Tim Scott on Senate Floor after Senate Democrats obstruct police reform in America