Democrats block GOP’s ‘weak’ police reform bill

Democrats block GOP’s ‘weak’ police reform bill
FILE - In this May 7, 2020, file photo, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks during a Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on new coronavirus tests on Capitol Hill in Washington. Senate Republicans are poised to unveil an extensive package of policing changes that includes new restrictions on police choke holds and other practices as President Donald Trump signals his support following the mass demonstrations over the deaths of George Floyd and other black Americans. Scott, the sole African American Republican in the Senate, has been crafting the package set to roll out Wednesday. (Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool, File)

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats blocked a GOP police reform bill Wednesday because they said it fails to adequately respond to police brutality against people of color.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sought to clear a procedural hurdle Wednesday so he could bring the bill to the floor for Senate consideration. But the legislation fell short of the 60 votes it needed to advance.

Fifty-five senators — mostly Republicans — backed the effort to advance the bill, while 45 senators — mostly Democrats — opposed it. Virginia’s Democratic senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, voted no.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the police reform bill “weak tea” on the Senate floor Wednesday.

“The Republican majority proposed the legislative equivalent of a fig leaf — something that provides a little cover but no real change,” he said.

He cited a letter from civil rights groups that said the bill “falls woefully short of the comprehensive reform needed to address the current policing crisis and achieve meaningful law enforcement accountability.”

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus agreed. “The American people deserve more than political posturing,” they wrote Monday in a letter to McConnell.

McConnell said Democrats have opportunities to amend the bill and that his party is “ready to make a law” but Democrats are shutting down debate on the bill for political gain.

They’d rather “preserve this urgent subject as a live campaign issue than pass a bipartisan answer,” he said.

Schumer responded that “the shoe is on the other foot. I think the politics here is that Leader McConnell wants to show he’s doing something and get nothing done.”

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.