Jun 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate prepares for showdown over police reform bill

 U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Democrats are debating how to deal with the GOP police reform bill, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) intends to bring to a vote this week.

The state of play: Some Democrats want to negotiate to push Republicans to include an outright ban on police chokeholds and stronger federal control of police training and accountability. Others are indicating they don’t trust McConnell to negotiate in good faith and would rather oppose this legislation and risk being labeled obstructionists.

Behind the scenes: Senate Democrats held discussions over the weekend about what to do, a senior Senate Democratic aide told Axios.

  • Some are frustrated that McConnell "hasn't made clear what the process would look like if they get on the bill," the aide said. Many also have concerns about advancing legislation that they feel is inadequate.
  • "They dropped a partisan bill with no Democratic input, and they said the vote’s gonna be next week, and it's widely been reviewed as insufficient," the aide said.

What's next: On Monday, McConnell will file cloture on a motion to proceed with the Senate’s Justice Act, setting up a procedural vote on the bill as early as Wednesday.

  • Republicans say the real debate should take place in a conference committee, with House and Senate members from both parties coming together to reconcile differences in legislation.
  • But Senate Republicans need at least seven Democrats to sign onto the bill for an open debate to happen.
  • "We will continue to go through the motions to have a vote on this regardless of what the Democrats do," a GOP leadership aide said.

The House plans to vote on its police reform bill, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, later this week.

  • On ABC’s “This Week" earlier Sunday, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said there’s more in common between the parties’ proposals than people think, estimating that “70% of it overlaps.”
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