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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.”

Go deeper

Sep 27, 2020 - Politics & Policy

GOP fears "little guy" attack on Amy Coney Barrett

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

White House aides and Senate Republicans have spent the past week readying binders full of messaging and rebuttals to guide Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a pre-Nov. 3 confirmation. "We knew for days it was going to be Amy," a Senate GOP aide involved in her confirmation process told Axios.

What we're hearing: Beyond the expected questions about her views on religion, abortion and health care, Republicans worry about Democrats painting Barrett as someone who is insensitive and unfair to “the little guy,” one source involved in the talks told Axios.

Sep 27, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden on Supreme Court fight: "This is about whether or not the ACA will exist"

Joe Biden made health care the overwhelming focus of his remarks from Wilmington, Delaware, on Sunday, stressing that the Senate confirmation battle over Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court is about preserving the Affordable Care Act in the midst of a pandemic.

Why it matters: Democrats are aggressively pushing the message that Barrett, who has previously criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for his 2012 ruling salvaging the ACA, will seek to invalidate the law when the Supreme Court hears a Trump administration-backed lawsuit against it on Nov. 10.

House Democrats unveil new $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief proposal

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Photo: Liz Lynch/Getty Images

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday unveiled House Democrats' new $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief proposal.

Why it matters: Negotiations with the Trump administration have stalled since the House passed its $3 trillion HEROES Act in May. The pared-down bill, which is $200 billion smaller than Democrats' most recent proposal, is part of Pelosi's last-ditch effort to strike a deal with the White House.