Jun 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Schumer: Senate Democrats will "fight like hell" to pass police reform bill

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday that Senate Democrats are set to "fight like hell" in order to pass a sweeping new police reform bill, calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring it up by the end of the month.

Why it matters: The bill represents the most drastic overhaul of federal policing laws in decades, as Axios' Alayna Treene reported.

  • The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 aims to broaden police accountability, tracking "problematic" officers through a national misconduct registry and restricting "qualified immunity" for officers over actions in the field.
  • It would also reform police training, make lynching a federal crime, and ban chokeholds and the use of no-knock warrants in drug cases.

What they're saying: "We're here today in search of that vision — liberty and justice for all," House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said at the press conference to introduce the bill.

  • "Empathy and sympathy and words of caring for those who have died and suffered are necessary, but it's not enough. ... We must change laws and systems of accountability. We must pass legislation that makes our common values and our common ideals real in the law of our land," said Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), one of the bill's key authors.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), another author, noted that the Senate failed last week to pass an anti-lynching bill, highlighting the difficulties of such reform.
  • "We cannot settle for anything less than transformative, structural change," added House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The other side: One aide in Senate Republican leadership told Axios that legislation with bipartisan support will be seriously considered, while suggesting that police issues might be better legislated at the state and local level.

  • It's unclear whether Republicans are willing to go as far as Democrats in terms of overhauling the nation's police system, thanks to potential backlash from both police unions and President Trump.

Read the bill's full text.

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