Police Reform Legislation Stalls in the U.S. Senate

While a number of states (+) and localities enacted police reform measures following the killing of George Floyd, in Congress the effort ground to a halt. House Democrats introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (H.R.7120) on June 8 and passed the measure by a vote of 236-181 on June 25.  In the Senate, Republicans, led by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), introduced the JUSTICE Act (S.3985) on June 17 but Democrats opposed the bill and it failed to achieve cloture.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi

 Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference Unveiling Congressional Democrats’ Justice in Policing Act

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass and House and Senate Democrats for a press conference unveiling Democrats’ Justice in Policing Act, legislation to end police brutality, hold police accountable, improve transparency in policing and create meaningful, structural change that safeguards every American’s right to safety and equal justice.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you very much.  Thank you very much, Karen Bass, for your tremendous leadership.

Under the leadership of Karen Bass, many of us had the privilege last year of going to Ghana to observe the 400th anniversary of the first slaves going across the Atlantic, America, really – there was no United States, but going across the Atlantic.  It was horrible.  The kidnapping, the purchase of those slaves, the dungeons in which they were kept.  And if they survived that, to be on a slave ship.  And if they survived that, to be sold into slavery and then everything that came from that.

When we were in Selma, only just a – in March, we saw at Bryan Stevenson's – one of his museums, a beautiful display, heartbreaking display of children, little children saying, ‘Mama?  Mama?  Has anyone seen our mother?’  These children separated from their mothers.  The cruelty of that.  And that is why, when George Floyd called out for his mother when he was subjected to that knee in the neck, it was just a continuation of some horror that has existed in our country for a very long time.

So, as to Mr. Clyburn and Mr. Hoyer – Mr. Hoyer, our distinguished Leader, Mr. Clyburn, our Whip, join Karen Bass, Leader Schumer, two Senators, leaders on this issue, Congresswoman Harris – Senator.  Did I say Senator?  Senator Harris, Senator Booker in Emancipation Hall, aptly named for those who built the Capitol of the United States, in their honor.  We were there for eight minutes and 46 seconds on our knees.  My Members will attest, it is a very long time.  It is a very long time.  And I graciously led them in falling over when it was over so that they could do the same thing.

But here we are, the martyrdom of George Floyd gave the American experience a moment of national anguish as we grieve for the Black Americans killed by police brutality.  Today, this moment of national anguish is being transformed into a movement of national action, as Americans from across the country peacefully protest to demand an end to injustice.  Today, with the Justice in Policing Act, the Congress is standing with those fighting for justice and taking action.

Let us, my colleagues, just go over some of those names of martyrdom: George Floyd, [Jordan] Davis, Oscar Grant, so sad, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean, Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin.  My colleagues, any other names you want to add?

Members.  Emmet Till.  Sean Bell.  Sandra Bland.  Amadou Diallo.  Steven Taylor.  Joshua Johnson.  Eula Love. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you.

We cannot settle for anything less than transformative, structural change, which is why the Justice in Policing Act will remove barriers to prosecuting police misconduct and covering damages by addressing the qualified immunity doctrine.  It will demilitarize police by limiting the transfer of military weaponry to state and local police departments.  It will combat police brutality by requiring body and dashboard cameras, banning choke holds, no-knock warrants in drug cases and end racial profiling.  It will stop – it will finally make lynching, Mr. Hoyer, a federal hate crime, and I support Chairwoman Bass and Representative Bobby Rush and our two distinguished Senators, Harris and Booker, and others for their work in helping to pass H.R. 35 this year.

Police brutality is a heartbreaking reflection of an entrenched system of racial injustice in America.  True justice can only be achieved with full, comprehensive action.  That is what we are doing today.  This is a first step.  There is more to come.

In the coming weeks, the bill – the House will hold hearings, mark up the bill.  Once the House passes the Justice in Policing Act, Leader McConnell will hopefully – he must swiftly take it up.  Leader in the Congress – the President must not stand in the way of Justice.  The Congress and the country will not relent until this legislation is made into law.

My colleague, Mr. Clyburn, is always getting awards for liberty and justice for all.  That is what this is about.  That is what our distinguished Leader, Mr. Schumer, talked about in Emancipation Hall.  I am pleased to yield to the distinguished Leader of the United States Senate, Democratic Leader, Mr. Schumer.


Chair Bass.  Next year, will be the 50th anniversary of the Congressional Black Caucus.  Fifty years ago there were thirteen Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and one of them, Representative Metcalfe, he was the one that came up with policies related to police reviews almost 50 years ago.  It is in their history and legacy that we stand today to continue on.  And I just want to thank all of my colleagues that are here today because we are not in session today and you came in specifically for this.  And I just want to thank you for standing in solidarity with this legislation.

Let me say, also, that one of the beauties of this bill is that many Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have legislation, individual bills that are a part of the larger bill because they've been working on it for so long.  I just want to briefly mention their names and then open it up for questions.  Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee, Hank Johnson, Representative Clay, Bonnie Watson Coleman, John Lewis, Representative Butterfield and Pressley.

And, with that, I would like to open it up for questions.  Yes?

Q:  Thank you, Chairwoman Bass.  Because there are so many of you here today who believe in this legislation, I was wondering if you could, maybe with a show of hands, demonstrate how many of you are confident that this legislation can actually crossed the finish line, that it can actually become law in this current political environment?

Chair Bass.  You want us to raise our hands?

Leader Hoyer.  Does that imply confidence in President Trump?


Q:  That’s part of it.

Chair Bass.  Can I just say that one of the things that gives us confidence is the fact that there are thousands of people around this country marching.  There is a movement that has caught fire, that is multi-racial and that has also spread around the world.  And we need to think about how the United States appears around the world when we go out and promote human rights, the world is looking at us.  That’s going to help us over the finish line.


Q:  To follow up on that, the President tweeted, ‘Law and order.  Not defund and abolish the police.  The radical left Democrats have gone crazy.’  I am not asking you to respond to the President's tweet –

Chair Bass.  Really?  Why?


Leader Hoyer.  She said she’s not.

Chair Bass.  Oh, you’re not going to.  Good. 

Q:  That is the narrative that the President and Republicans could very well likely create around this legislation.  So, how do you respond to that?  Can you also, just on camera, tell us why you are wearing the Kente cloths?  The significance of today, why you are wearing it.

Chair Bass.  The significance of the Kente cloth is our African heritage and, for those of you without that heritage, who are acting in solidarity.  That is the significance of the Kente cloth, our origins and respecting our past.

Would anybody – I mean I'm happy to respond to that, but if there's anybody else who would like to.  You know, I think for us, especially when it comes to this legislation, we feel it is transformative.  That it will transform the relationships that our communities have with the police.  And I think that in terms of the ‘law and order’ message that the President is spewing out there, there is nothing new about that message and I do not believe it will be successful.


Q:  Yes.  Senator Tom Cotton called for an ‘overwhelming show of force.’  Suggested maybe the 101st Airborne, the 82nd Airborne should be brought in.  He also told Politico that he doesn’t believe he can say that there is systemic racism in the criminal justice system.  I was wondering if you could respond to those two ideas.

Chair Bass.  Yeah, I can – would somebody like to respond?  Mr. Whip Clyburn.

Whip Clyburn.  Many of you have heard me go to Tocqueville’s description of what makes this country great.  And he wrote in his two volume book Democracy in America, that America is not great because it is more enlightened than any other nation, but rather, because it has always been able to repair its faults.  That's what makes this country great.  And most right-thinking Americans know that the greatness of this country is at stake.  We have unveiled, for whatever reason, some faults that need to be repaired.  Faults in our health care system.  Faults in our judicial system.

So, let me say it to Mr. Cotton.  Pick up any history book of America.  I would ask him to please just read the history of Isaac Woodard, a black man who came home from World War II.  On the bus from Fort Gordon, Georgia, trying to get to South Carolina.  And he was stopped, taken off a bus in Batesburg, South Carolina by a deputy sheriff.  He was in his uniform.  And that Deputy Sheriff took his billy stick and punched his eyes out.  Is that institutional in law enforcement?  That has been the foundation upon which law enforcement in many parts of this country have been established.  Cotton is from Arkansas.  He ought to be ashamed of himself.

Congressman Clay.  Let me also add.  I represent the heartland of America.  Missouri is just north –  oh, I'm Lacy Clay from St. Louis, Missouri.  Missouri is just north of Arkansas and I would suggest to any local, state or federal official, sometimes we have to follow the will and wishes of the American people.

Now, I've seen millions in my state and around the country, in small towns in Missouri and throughout this nation, who know there is an injustice throughout this nation, that we have been treated unequally.  So, I suggest Senator Cotton and others follow the lead of the people, the American people, and get on board with this effort.

Thank you.

Chair Bass.  Yes.

Q:  I think – you know – both Republicans, in both the House and Senate, said that a compromise can be reached, but in order to do this, House lawmakers need to be called back to the House.  Speaker Pelosi, would you like to address that one?


That's what Leader McCarthy has said.

Leader Hoyer.  I've heard Leader McCarthy's comments.  We are working.  We are here on behalf of the American people, not just African Americans, but the American people.  Committees are working today, and I’ve said I'm going to call the House back as soon as this legislation is ready to hit the Floor.  And we are going to vote on it, and I'm confident it's going to pass the House.

But sadly, I am not confident that a body that has not been able to pass the Emmett Till lynching bill will pass this bill.  I hope so, and I hope the President doesn't adopt your premise.  I hope he adopts a premise of justice for all.  If he does, America will be better.

Chair Bass.  Yes.

Q:  Congresswoman, the Minneapolis City Council has done a sort of – peoples are calling it defund police.  Is that something that the Caucus supports?  Is it something that can happen in a federal way?  Or is that just –

Chair Bass.  Well, I can’t imagine that happening in a federal way, but let me just tell you that part of that cry is a desire for there to be significant higher investment in communities, looking at why police are needed, what happens, what are the root causes of the problems in communities?

And a lot of people feel what it comes to the defense budget, maybe that money could be used in different ways, and I think that that's a similar issue.  But the part about having a comprehensive investment in communities on behalf of the Black Caucus, let me just say that obviously we are focusing on this bill right now, but we do have other legislation coming along the lines in the form of jobs and justice, which gets at a lot of issues in the community.


Q:  Just to follow up, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer, do you support the defund police that we’re seeing on the ground?

Speaker Pelosi.  I think the Congresswoman answered your question very clearly.  But the fact is, is that we do have a great deal of legislation coming down the pike that addresses some of the concerns of our communities across the country.

One of them that I wish the Senate would pass right away is The Heroes Act.  In The Heroes Act, we support community, state and local governments.  We support the disparity in the coronavirus, how it attacks committees of color and we would hope that the Senate would not ignore that and would pass the legislation.  And we would hope that we would put more money into the pockets of people who really need that now.  And so we have that.

And then, following that, Mr.  Hoyer has on the schedule that before the fourth of July, hopefully, we will pass the Affordable Care Act stabilization act, which will provide fairness and access to affordable health care in our country.  As Mr. Clyburn mentioned earlier, that’s a challenge, as well as our bill – the infrastructure legislation that will build America in a green way providing jobs.

That's what we said when we ran in [2018].  We were going to, For The People, lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and keeping the pre-existing condition benefit.  We were going to lower health care costs, bigger paychecks by building infrastructure in a green way and third, cleaner government with Mr. Lewis’ provisions in there that are about voter suppression – any voter suppression and the rest.

So, there are all kinds of ways that we've come at this.  The fact that the distinguished Chairwoman mentioned, this is – and as she has said and others have said, we want to work with our police departments.  There are many who take pride in their work.  We want to be able to make sure that the focus is on them.  But there are many things we call upon our police departments to deal with, mental health issues, policing in schools and the rest, that we could rebalance some of our funding to address some of those issues more directly.

But this isn't about that, and that should not be the story that leaves here.  The story that leaves here is, as Mr. Clyburn said, liberty and justice for all.  Mr. Schumer had mentioned that as well, here and in the Emancipation Hall.  Mr. Hoyer mentioned repeating our distinguished former president, Mr. Obama, as to what modesty or humility or patriotism says.  We know we have to do better in certain respects.  Let's focus on what Lincoln said, ‘Public sentiment is everything.  With it you can accomplish almost anything, without it, practically nothing.’

The public sentiment could not be clearer.  We need to make some transformative change, not incremental, transformative change.  And as we do so, we will change policy as we do in this legislation.  We will use all the tools at our disposal to make sure that we are moving toward a more perfect union with liberty and justice for all and have those debates at the local level, as that is a local decision – a local level.

But to do so, that doesn't say we're going to pile more money onto further militarize the police.  No, we are going to address mental health issues, education issues in our communities as well, and I don't want anyone to get the impression that, but for some of the stuff we are doing now, many of these people would be not productive members of society.  They will; we just want to make it easier for them in the communities to be able to be treated equally, as Mr. Jeffries mentioned.

And I thank – where did he go?  Our Chairman of the Judiciary Committee spent his life on these issues about fairness.  Thank you, Mr. Nadler for that.  Everyone here knows what they're talking about and what they are doing.

And the safety of the American people is an oath that we take to protect and defend.  That’s our responsibility.  We know that their safety is important and to do so in a constitutional way and not in some sloganeer-tweeting way that the President may put forth.

So, we feel very confident about the path we are on, not only with this legislation, but what will come next.  And we’ll do so listening.  As Steny said, ‘We hear you.  We see you,’ and your views are important to us as we go forward.

It's a pretty exciting time.  This is a transformational piece of legislation.  This is an important day.  The martyrdom, the martyrdom of George Floyd – and by Tuesday, by tomorrow may he rest in peace – has made a change in the world.  So, let's not get into these questions that may be from the small minds of some – but – about as far as safety is concerned, but look at it writ large.

With that, I yield back to the distinguished Chair.

Chair Bass.  Two things very quickly.  One, the bill does not provide any new money for policing, and two, there is a provision in the bill for grants to communities to have projects that begin to re-envision what policing might be about in a particular neighborhood.

And let me also say as the Speaker said, ‘public sentiment.’  The polling for public sentiment is 80 percent in support of peaceful protests where people now recognize the challenges in our policing system.  Let me bring up Lisa Blunt Rochester from the great state of Delaware.

Congresswoman Blunt Rochester.  Thank you, Madam Speaker and to all of the leadership here.  John Lewis is not here, but he is our colleague.  And he has been the conscience of the conscience of the Congress.  And what he probably would say is, let's keep our eyes on the prize.  Let’s keep our eyes on the prize.  Everybody in this country can do something that nobody else can do.  We are the Congress.  What we are doing here today is our goal.  There will be state and local governments that will call for things in their areas.

But there was a question at the beginning where we were asked to raise our hand about our belief in whether this could happen or not.  Well, I looked at some of my colleagues like Bobby Scott and Rosa DeLauro and others here.  When I started three years ago – three and a half years ago, I would not have believed that we would have had paid family leave or sick time.  But the times called for it because of COVID-19.

This is the time.  This is the time.  As Fannie Lou Hamer said, ‘We are sick and tired of being sick and tired.’  That's why you see us flying in from across the country, because we are doing our job.  And so, for all the distractors out there, masters of distraction, we are keeping our eyes on the prize.  We are keeping our eyes on the prize, and we need that to be the story.  State and local will do what state and local needs to do.  Those folks, those young people, those old people, black, white, native people, who this country, if we really want to go deep – we are trying to rebuild the foundation.  That's all.

So, keep our eyes on the prize.


Chair Bass.  With that, I think that is a great close, and let me just end by saying that as we address the question of police abuse, we understand that it impacts many different communities, not just of the African American community, the Latino community, the Asian community the Native American community, and we are united in getting justice in policing passed.

Thank you very much.


U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
June 17, 2020

JUSTICE Act Introduced in United States Senate

Addresses Police Reform, Accountability and Transparency

WASHINGTON – This morning, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Cornyn (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), James Lankford (R-OK) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) announced the introduction of the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act. The legislation provides long-term solutions focused on police reform, accountability and transparency, while also promoting efforts to find solutions to systemic issues affecting people of color such as education and health disparities.

“Now is the time for reform,” Senator Scott said. “The murder of George Floyd and its aftermath made clear from sea to shining sea that action must be taken to rebuild lost trust between communities of color and law enforcement. The JUSTICE Act takes smart, commonsense steps to address these issues, from ending the use of chokeholds and increasing the use of body worn cameras, to providing more resources for police departments to better train officers and make stronger hiring decisions. I want to thank Leader McConnell and the entire task force not just for their hard work on putting this bill together, but for their commitment to finding real solutions.”

“I am honored to join my colleagues today to introduce the JUSTICE Act, which offers solutions to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and communities by increasing training, transparency, and accountability,” said Lankford. “Hundreds of thousands of state, local, and federal law enforcement officers in Oklahoma and around the nation continue to do the right thing, the right way, daily. However, the service of great officers gets overshadowed by the actions of a few that abuse their position. Transparency, accountability and training will allow the thousands of good officers to shine and will expose the motives of those who are not providing equal justice. Legislative action is required to end the use of chokeholds and to bring more consistency under the law. Justice should not be a partisan issue. I look forward to partnering with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and with the White House as we work toward racial reconciliation and improved relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

 “I really appreciate Senator Scott’s leadership putting together a police reform proposal that will make a difference," stated Senator Lindsey Graham. “This proposal reinforces the need for better community policing, best practices and creating more transparency when it comes to reporting encounters with law enforcement throughout the country. I hope our Democratic colleagues will take this proposal seriously, and that all of us work together to find common ground to bring reform to policing in America.”

“It is our job in Congress to listen to voices across our country and heed calls for justiceThat does not mean defunding the police. The answer is to improve policing, not to defund or eliminate it. This is what the JUSTICE Act does: makes significant improvements to our nation’s law enforcement system. There is absolutely no conflict between being pro-civil rights and being pro-law enforcementThe JUSTICE Act supports our police officers while bringing about positive change that will help guarantee equal protection to all of our citizens. This police reform bill will make a real difference in advancing our constitutional ideals and in making our communities safer. I am proud to stand with Senator Tim Scott and my other colleagues in introducing this legislation today and look forward to it becoming law,” Senator Capito said.

“When I spoke with George Floyd’s family last week, they asked me for one thing: justice. That is what we set out to do with this legislation,” said Sen. Cornyn. “The JUSTICE Act is a package of significant reforms that already have bipartisan support, so there’s no excuse for Democrats to reject them out of hand. Although many of the changes to reform policing in our communities will happen at the local level, we can help stem racial inequality and ensure America’s police are more responsibly serving our communities.”

 “The murder of George Floyd has been seared into our national conscience,” Senator Sasse said. “America’s promise of equal justice under the law cannot depend on the color of your skin. Americans can rise to this moment, and that’s what the JUSTICE Act aims to help. We’re proposing real solutions to bring transparency, provide resources, and build trust between our communities and the police. I’m grateful for Senator Scott’s leadership and hard work on reforms that should get a unanimous vote of support here in the Senate. Let’s do this.”

The full text of the JUSTICE Act is here, and a section by section analysis is here. A summary is below.

Law Enforcement Reform

  • The JUSTICE Act strengthens the training methods and tactics throughout law enforcement jurisdictions, especially regarding de-escalation of force and the duty to intervene, providing law enforcement with new funding to do so, and will also end the practice of utilizing chokeholds
  • Additionally, the bill will reform hiring practices by providing more resources to ensure the makeup of police departments more closely matches the communities they serve
  • The JUSTICE Act also ensures when a candidate is interviewed, the department looking to hire will have access to their prior disciplinary records
  • Too often, after a tragic incident, we have learned the offending officer had a disciplinary past in another jurisdiction of which their current employer was unaware


  • Studies show that when body cameras are properly used violent encounters decrease significantly
  • The JUSTICE Act will put more body cameras on the streets, and ensure that departments are both using the cameras and storing their data properly
  • JUSTICE also requires a report establishing best practices for the hiring, firing, suspension, and discipline of law enforcement officers


  • Currently, only about 40 percent of police officers from jurisdictions nationwide report to the FBI after an incident where an officer has discharged his or her weapon or used force
  • The bill will require full reporting in these two areas
  • There is also very little data as to when, where and why no knock warrants are used, and the JUSTICE Act will require reporting in this area as well

Additional Steps

  • The JUSTICE Act will finally make lynching a federal crime
  • It also creates two commissions to study and offer solutions to a broader range of challenges facing black men and boys, and the criminal justice system as a whole


U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
June 24, 2020

Senator Tim Scott Delivers Fiery Speech on Senate Floor After Senate Democrats Stonewall Legislation on Police Reform Across America

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), leader of the JUSTICE Act taskforce, took to the Senate Floor after the Senate Democrats stonewalled legislation on police reform in American communities.

Below are a few quotes from the senator’s speech today:

“Mr. President, there is danger coming. The source of this danger is not the failure of this bill on this floor at this time. This is merely a symptom of the danger that I believe is right in front of us.”

“Today, we lost a vote on a piece of legislation that would have led to systemic change in the relationship between communities of color and the law enforcement community. We would have broken the concept in this nation that you have to be for law enforcement or for communities of color. That is a false binary choice.”

“My friends on the other side just said no. Not no to the legislation…they just said no.”

“This process is not broken because of the legislation. This is a broken process beyond that one piece of legislation. It’s one of the reasons why communities of color – Americans of all colors – are losing faith in the institutions of authority and power in this nation.”

“Mr. President, there is danger coming. The source of this danger is not the failure of this bill on this floor at this time. This is merely a symptom of the danger that I believe is right in front of us.”

“Today, we lost a vote on a piece of legislation that would have led to systemic change in the relationship between communities of color and the law enforcement community. We would have broken the concept in this nation that you have to be for law enforcement or for communities of color. That is a false binary choice.”

“My friends on the other side just said no. Not no to the legislation… they just said no.”

“This process is not broken because of the legislation. This is a broken process beyond that one piece of legislation. It’s one of the reasons why communities of color – Americans of all colors – are losing faith in the institutions of authority and power in this nation.”

“If you don’t like what you see, change it. We offered them opportunities to change it.”

“The actual problem is not what is being offered. It is who is offering it…. As a black man, I get the ‘who’ being the problem. It’s one of the reasons why I went to Senator McConnell and said I want to lead this conversation…. What I missed in this issue is that the stereotyping of Republicans is just as toxic to the outcomes of the most vulnerable communities in this nation…. They cannot allow this party to be seen as a party that reaches out to all communities in this nation.”

“The irony of the story is not the bill. The irony of the story is that today and through June and July what we’ll have is- instead of getting 70 percent of what you wanted, or more – you’re going to get 0.”

“The actual problem is not what is being offered. It is who is offering it…. As a black man, I get the ‘who’ being the problem. It’s one of the reasons why I went to Senator McConnell and said I want to lead this conversation…. What I missed in this issue is that the stereotyping of Republicans is just as toxic to the outcomes of the most vulnerable communities in this nation…. They cannot allow this party as a party to be seen as a party that reaches out to all communities in this nation.”
“The irony of the story is not the bill. The irony of the story is that today and through June and July what we’ll have is- instead of getting 70 percent of what you wanted, or more – you’re going to get 0.”

Transcript as delivered
Thank you, Senator Perdue. Mr. President, there is a scripture in the Bible in the book of Ezekiel, chapter 33, somewhere around verse 36. That scripture talks about a watchman on a wall. And his job is to simply say there's danger coming.

Very important job. The watchman's job is to simply say there is danger coming. I had that conversation, as Senator Perdue spoke about, five years ago. I didn't find anyone on the other side willing to engage in that conversation then, and here we are five years later. There is danger coming. I want us to hear this clearly because as we look out on the streets of America and we see more unrest and we see more challenging situations, realize that there is danger coming. The watchman's responsibility is to call out the danger, and as the bloodshed happens, the blood, according to Ezekiel, will not be on the hands of the watchman. But if he does not shout out, if he does not articulate that there is danger coming, then the blood is on his hands.

Mr. President, there is danger coming. We are in dangerous times. The source of this danger is not the failure of this bill on this floor at this time. Nope. This is merely a symptom of the danger that I believe is right in front of us. This is only a symptom of a much deeper issue, a systemic problem. Let me explain. I'm a kid who grew up in poverty, abject poverty in many ways. There's much worse poverty in America and certainly around the world than I grew up in.

I'm talking about the poverty where when you come home and you hit the light switch, there's no light. I'm talking about the kind of poverty that when you had a phone attached to the wall and you picked it up, there's no sound. There are people who lived in worse poverty than I, but that is poverty from my perspective. I lived in that poverty and one of the challenging situations of poverty that manifests is hopelessness.

I was that hopeless kid in America. Mired in poverty, in a single-parent household, under the impression that the only way that I can escape poverty is through athletics or entertainment. I was hopeless. And from seven years old to 14 years old, I drifted, and all drifting leads in the wrong direction. I failed out of high school, embarrassed my mom, who was working 16 hours a day because I felt like there was no hope in this country for a little black boy like me. 14 years old. Failed Spanish, English, world geography, and civics. Civics, as we all know, is as close as it gets to politics. I will say that this body as a whole today is failing civics. We're failing at politics. 

But as the Lord would have it, I had an amazing mother who believed that it was her responsibility to pray me out of the hard situations I found myself, and then I had the good fortune of meeting a mentor after I got through summer school. They redirected me. I pulled myself together with the help of a praying family, a praying grandmother, and a whole lot of faith. I caught up with my class. I graduated on time, earned a small football scholarship, went to college, earned a degree in political science.

Along the way, I joined the NAACP, joined the Urban League, joined many organizations in the community because I knew that part of my responsibility was to be socially engaged in making a difference, no matter how small that difference could be. The one organization I didn't even think about joining was the Republican Party.

Why would I ever think about joining the Republican Party? Because growing up every African American, every black person I knew of, was wed to the Democrat Party, because it's better to have a seat in the room than be outside. That was the heritage I grew up in. Let me fast-forward to where we are today and I’ll return to that.

Today we lost -- I lost -- a vote on a piece of legislation that would have led to systemic change in the relationship between the communities of color and the law enforcement community. We would have broken this concept in this nation that somehow some way you have to either be for law enforcement or for communities of color. That is a false binary choice. It's just not true. This legislation spoke to the important issues that have brought us here today. We wouldn't be here if it were not, as Senator Perdue alluded to, for the death of yet another African American man, George Floyd.

His murder is why the country has given us the opportunity to lead, to lead. And my friends on the other side just said no. Not no to the legislation. They just said no. And why am I saying that they didn't just say no to the legislation? It's because along the way I sat down with many of them and said, what do you need? And Senator Schumer sent a letter telling -- I believe it was Senator McConnell -- there are five things in the legislation that needed to be improved. I said, let's give them the five amendments. I sat down with more senators and they said, wait, wait, wait. There's not just five. There's 20. I said, how about 20 amendments? And they walked out.

You see, this process is not broken because of the legislation. This is a broken process beyond that one piece of legislation. It's one of the reasons why communities of color, young Americans of all colors, are losing faith in the institutions of authority and power in this nation. Because we're playing small ball. We're playing for those in the insulated chambers. We're playing for presidential politics. That's small ball. Playing the big boys game is playing for the kids who can't represent themselves. And if you don't like what you see, change it. We offered them opportunities, at least 20 I offered, to change it. Their answer to me? You can't offer 20 amendments. I said why not? Because Mitch McConnell won't give 20 amendments.

I spoke to Mitch McConnell. He said you can have 20 amendments. I told them that. We went to a press conference yesterday and we said an open process. They didn't want an open process. They want one thing and I’m going to get to that. So I asked my friends, what is it, what is it you don't like about where we're going? They said well, the data collection area. This is a problem. The data collection area is a problem. Tell me the problem.

The problem is we're not collecting data. Wait a second. I could have sworn when I wrote the legislation we were collecting data. I flipped through the pages and realized we're collecting data -- collecting data for serious bodily injury and death. They said we want to collect data on all uses of force. I said put it in an amendment and I’ll support it. That was just one bone of contention. I said, well, tell me another one. They said, our bone of contention is that we need you to ban no-knock warrants because of the Breonna Taylor situation.

I said your bill does not ban no-knock warrants for the Breonna Taylor situation. Your bill bans it for federal agents. There's not a secret service agent showing up at Breonna Taylor’s door. That was a local police department. So the fact that they're saying that they want to ban no-knock warrants, knowing they cannot ban no-knock warrants tells me that this is not about the underlying issue. It's bigger than that. I said well, I’ll give you an amendment, though, and we can have that fight on the floor of the United States Senate. As a matter of fact, I said, tell me any issue you have with the legislation. Well, we went to de-escalation training, the duty to intervene, best practices. I said in the legislation, in the legislation, in the legislation. You know, I don't have any hair so I didn't pull it out. Here's where I said: let's talk about tactics then. They said you don't ban chokeholds. I could have sworn I banned chokeholds in there somewhere.

And then I read the bill. They don't ban chokeholds on the local level, the state level. You know why? There's this little thing called the constitution. They can't ban chokeholds. Eric Garner's situation would not have been cured by their ban on chokeholds because their ban on chokeholds were for federal agents. Our legislation instructed the attorney general to ban chokeholds for federal agents. And what else did we do? Well, we said we would reduce funding by 20%. They reduced funding by 10%. So our penalty was twice the penalty of the other side, and this is supposed to be an issue.

Mr. President, I’m not sure we have found the issue. We haven't. It's not chokeholds. It's not the duty to intervene, data collection. I sat there meeting with them. They said “Senator, it's your definition of chokeholds.” That's a problem. See, I assume that when you think of chokeholds, you think of a chokehold. But there is a distinction of the carotid air flow versus blood flow. Ours only covered one, not the other. I said okay, you have an amendment. I'll vote for it. We'll change it. They said we're not here to talk about that. Wait a second. If we're not here to debate the issue on the motion to proceed so that we can not fix 50% of the bill, not 70% of the bill, but literally slivers, slight changes on parts of the bill that would move this entire process forward.

You have the amendments to do so. I even said something that I didn't think I would say. I said what about a managers' amendment. Let's just fix everything in one fail swoop. They said no thank you. So I find it disingenuous when people say why don't you sit down with one member and work it out. If a manager's amendment won't do it, if the five amendments -- five things in the letter they said they wanted fixed won’t do it, if twenty amendments won't do it, you have an open process on the United States senate that requires us 60 votes to get off of the bill, then what, pray tell, is the problem? Well, I finally realized what the problem is, Mr. President. The actual problem is not what is being offered. It is who is offering it. Took me a long time to figure out the most obvious thing in the room. It's not they what.

I've listened to the press conferences. I've read the newspapers. I'm not sure anyone who is actually reporting on the bill has actually read the bill. Because the next time I see another story or editorial that says we don't do this. Their bill does that. And you put the two together and it's not just off, it's just dead wrong. So I realized finally it's the who that's offering this. Now, I have dealt with the problem of who before.

As a black man, I get the who being the problem. It's one of the reasons why I went to Senator McConnell and said I want to lead this conversation. I'm the person in our conference who has experienced firsthand racial discrimination, racial profiling by law enforcement, and I'm still a fan because I believe most law enforcement officers are good. But I'm the guy, I am your guy, Mitch, because this is my issue. This is an issue for every poor kid growing up in every poor neighborhood in this nation who feels like when I leave my home for a jog, I might not come back. This is a serious issue. This is an issue for every single kid who says is this my country?

We've heard no. This is the issue that we should be solving, not the legislative issue. That's not the issue. The issue is do we matter? We had an opportunity to say you matter so much, we'll stay on this floor for as long as it takes and as many amendments as it takes for us to get to the issue that says yes, you matter. But we said no today. 56 people said yes. Four short, four short of saying yes. Yes to having enough information to direct training and resources in such a way that we could hold people accountable.

We were four votes short of saying yes to having a powerful tool of pooling resources to compel behavior on choke holds. Because I believe if we'd gotten on the bill, we would have passed this bill. But that is the problem, by the way. That's the who I’m talking about. As a black guy, I know how it feels to walk into a store and have the little clerk follow me around, even as a United States Senator. I get that. I've experienced that. I understand the traffic stops. I understand that when I’m walking down the street and some Young lady clutches on to her purse and my instinct is to get a little further away because I don't want any issues with anybody, I understand that.

But what I missed in this issue is that the stereotyping of Republicans is just as toxic and poison to the outcomes of the most vulnerable communities in this nation. That's the issue. When Speaker Pelosi says one of the most heinous things I can imagine: that the Republicans are actually trying to cover up murder, the murder of Feorge Floyd with our legislation, that's not politics. That's not a game to win. That's you lose. You will sooner or later lose. But immediately every kid around the nation that heard that nonsense lost that moment.

You see, what's become evident to me is that she knows something that we all know. She knows that she can say that because the democrats have a monopoly on the black vote. And no matter the return on their loyalty -- I am telling you the most loyal part of the democrat construct, black communities. And no matter the loyalty of the people, the return they get will always continue to go down because in monopolies, you start devaluing your customer. You see, today we could have given at the very minimum 70% of what they say would be important for the people we say we serve. But instead of having a debate on that today and getting not five amendments but 20 amendments, a managers amendment, instead of going forward and getting what you want now, they've decided to punt this ball until the election. You know why?

Because they believe that the polls reflect a 15-point deficit on our side. Therefore they can get the vote they want in November. All they have to do is win the election. Then roll in January and they get the chance to write the police reform bill without our support at all. Well, this is what they did in the House, right? No amendments in the house from Republicans on their bill. We're saying amendments on our side. Democrats are saying no amendments in the House but you, here in the United States Senate because we are the world's greatest deliberative body, you can have amendments. Not in the House. Not under Speaker Pelosi. But under leader McConnell, you get at least 20 amendments. I’ll throw in the managers amendment, too. That was not good enough because the irony of the story is not the bill. The irony of the story is that today and through the rest of June and all of July, what we're going to have here is, instead of getting 70% of what you wanted or more, you're going to get zero.

How is that for a return? How is that for loyalty? How does that work for the little kid at a home in North Charleston where Walter Scott got shot? How does that work around the country when instead of getting 70% of what you wanted, today and tomorrow and next week you get zero. And you're going to wait until the election to get more. Okay. Well, why wouldn't you take the 80% now, see if you can win the election and add on the other 20%. You've got to be kidding me. Because the who matters, they cannot allow this party to be seen as a party that reaches out to all communities in this nation, and unfortunately without the kind of objectivity in the media that is necessary to share the message of what's actually happening, no one will ever know.

Because if you don't read it in the paper, it must not have happened. If you don't see it on tv, NBC or CNN, it must not be true. That's a problem. Let me just say this. I think we are willing to be for every vote, everywhere, all the time. That might not be true in every corridor of the nation, but it's true in most corridors of the nation. And this party has reinforced that truth, not by the words coming out of my mouth, but by the actual legislation signed into law. Senator Perdue started talking about the important work that we did on opportunity zones, and i'm going to wrap it up in two minutes here. It's lunch time. 2017, we passed tax reform.

I included in the opportunity zones $75 billion, real money, to the most distressed communities in this nation. How did that happen? Well, me andPresident Trump had a serious disagreement on his comments after Charlottesville. He being a person that I was not looking forward to having a conversation with, invited me to the oval office. I sat down there and I said what do you want to talk about? The president said tell me about your perspective on racial history. I was stunned because if you know President Trump like I know President Trump, his love language is not words of encouragement. It just ain’t. It’s not. But he listened. And at the end of our conversation, he simply said tell me how to help those I have offended. I didn't know what to say. So I pulled out of my back pocket opportunity zones. I didn't go in prepared for him to listen. It's not supposed to be funny, but it is. I mean, I didn't expect him to listen. But he did. He listened.

He leaned in and he said tell me how to help the folks I have offended. Let's work on opportunity zones together. He said yes. I said what? He said yes. He was concerned enough about the communities he had literally just offended, he was concerned enough to go to work on their behalf, and that's why we have opportunity zones. I thought well, this might work again. So I went back to the president and said, you know, there is a lot of work that needs to be done around the HBCU's, historically black colleges and universities. He said yes. He said yes.

We said yes. And let me just say this. When we started saying yes, we controlled the White House, we controlled the Senate, and we controlled the House. So it wasn't because some Democrat came over here and said in order to get our votes, you have to do this. That's not what happened. He said yes because the Republican Party said yes.

We stood together with all three leaders of government under our control -- all three levers of government under our control. We got the opportunity zones done. We started the process of reinvesting in historically black colleges and universities. And the head of the united negro college fund said at my last fly-in that this is a record level of funding ever. His words, not mine. I'm not sure what ever is. Maybe that's longer than I have been alive. Literally more money for HBCU's ever. Brought to you by the Republican Party.

I said well, if that's working, let's do it again. So we went to stem cell research, stem cell research for sickle cell anemia, which is 100% basically -- a 99. 95% African American disease. He said yes. Lamar Alexander, the head, the chairman of our help committee, we were fighting over funding for HBCU's. We made it permanent, permanent funding for the HBCU'sled by a Republican chairman of the education committee, president trump signs it. We have delivered historic funding and permanent funding for HBCU's. I'm not going to go to the -- because i'm running out of time. I'm not going to go through the pre-pandemic numbers in minority communities for unemployment. Unemployment not only had a record low but we had labor force participation rates increasing. Let me say that differently.

Not only did we get more jobs for Black folks and Brown folks, the number of folks in the community started having an increase in the number of folks working. This is called basic Conservative politics. It works. Seven million new jobs, two-thirds with African Americans, Hispanics, and women. And in a full economy, all boats started rising. Don't believe me. Check your accounts. That's what it looks like.

Covid-19 hit us, and what did we do? We not only approved $2. 3 trillion and then another $500 billion or so, and 3-point -- $450 billion that would be multiplied in the commercial facilities by probably seven or eight. $6 trillion relief package. But what did we do inside that package? We targeted small businesses to save small businesses, and, by the way, we added a billion dollars for historically black colleges and universities. Let me tell you what the biggest threat is. The biggest threat is that this Republican Party keeps showing up and delivering. I have got 12 more pages to go. It's like being at church with third closing. Literally, I have got 12 more pages of accomplishments to talk about.

I'm not going to talk about it. Don't look relieved. I'm not going to talk about it. I'm just here to tell you that if we're going to be serious about criminal justice reform and we passed it with the house, the Senate, and theWhite House in the hands of Republicans. We passed criminal justice reform to make up for the democrat bill, the 1994 crime bill that locked up disproportionately African American men.

The Republican party passed criminal justice reform. With all relievers in our hands. I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated. Because it's not a competition for the best ideas. It's not a competition for how to improve the poorest performing schools in America in the public education system that is consistently in Black and Brown communities, that your zip code determines the outcome of your life because you're not going to have a good education because we won't -- we won't touch teachers unions, we won't touch education in the way that it needs to be touched. Governor Scott did before he was a senator. It's one of the reasons I went down there and campaigned for him because he was serious about helping poor kids get up and move on.

Let me just close with this. I don't know what it's going to take to wake up our entire nation about the importance of a duopoly and not a monopoly. Because look at your results. Look at the results you are getting. And by the way, when this bill is gone and next week we're on the D. O. D. or something else, we'll forget about this. We'll move on. People will forget about it. And you know what's going to happen? Something bad. And we'll be right back here talking about what should have been done, what could have been done, why we must act now.

I'm telling you I had this conversation five years ago. I'm having this conversation right now. We could do something right now. You know, here's the truth. In Detroit, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, all these cities could have banned choke holds themselves. They could have increased the 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 R. O. I. For the poorest people in this nation? And I don't blame them. I blame an elite political class with billions of dollars to do whatever they want to do and look at the results for the poorest, most vulnerable people in our nation.

I'm willing to compete for their vote. Are you?

Both the JUSTICE Act and the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, the House Democrats’ bill, make lynching a federal crime, call for increased data collection, more training for law enforcement officials and incentives for law enforcement officers to wear body cameras, and creates a national criminal justice commission.

The full text of the JUSTICE Act is available here, and a section by section analysis can be found here.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer
June 24, 2020

Schumer Floor Remarks In Opposition To Senate GOP’s Irrevocably Flawed Policing Bill; Schumer Demands Bipartisan Talks To Produce Meaningful Policing Reform Legislation

Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to the Senate Republican’s irrevocably flawed policing bill. Senator Schumer also demanded bipartisan talks to produce meaningful policing reform legislation that meets the moment. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery continue to ring in the nation’s ears, a searing reminder of the desperate need to reform policing and truly address racial injustice in America. Their memory is a national call to action.

Democrats answered that call by proposing a broad, strong, comprehensive policing reform bill that would bring deep and lasting change to police departments across America. House Democrats will pass that bill—the Justice in Policing Act—as early as tomorrow.

However, here in the Senate, the Republican majority proposed the legislative equivalent of a fig leaf; something that provides a little cover but no real change. And in less than an hour, Leader McConnell will ask the Senate to proceed to this so-called policing reform bill.

We’ve all gone over the bill’s deficiencies, over and over again. There are no good answers. Some on the other side have said the bills are similar. They are like night and day.

In response to the brutal killing of George Floyd, his windpipe crushed by a police officer, my Republican friends drafted a bill that does not even fully ban the type of brutal tactics that led to his death.

In response to the death of Breonna Taylor, killed by police executing a no-knock warrant, my Republican friends have drafted a bill that does not even ban that type of tactics.

What weak tea.

For Leader McConnell to come on the floor with this bill and say he is solving the problem—no one believes that, except maybe a few ideologues who really don't want to solve the problem to begin with.

The bill doesn’t ban chokeholds. It doesn’t ban no-knock warrants. It does nothing to stop racial profiling, the militarization of the police, or reform “use of force” standards and qualified immunity. All the things that need to be done, almost none of which are in this bill.

The last piece is particularly surprising. So much of the anger in the country right now is directed at the lack of accountability for police officers who violate Americans’ rights. As far as I can tell, the Republican bill does not even attempt one significant reform, not one, to bring more accountability to police officers who are guilty of misconduct.

If you present a bill, as Republicans have here in the Senate, that does nothing on accountability and say they are solving or dealing with the problem in even close to an adequate way, they are sadly mistaken. No one, no one, believes that.

Now, I could spent more time describing what the Republican bill doesn’t do than what it does do. The harsh fact of the matter is, the bill is so deeply, fundamentally, and irrevocably flawed, that it cannot serve as a useful starting point for real reform.

But don't ask me. Don't ask the Democrats here. Ask the leading civil rights organizations who have declared their strong opposition not only to this bill but have urged us not to move forward because they know this bill is a sham, a cul-de-sac, which will lead to no reform whatsoever.

That’s why a chorus of civil rights leaders and organizations have declared their strong opposition to the Republican policing bill.

Yesterday, more than 138 civil rights groups sent an open letter to Senators demanding that we vote ‘no’ on moving to proceed today.

I have the letter here. I ask unanimous consent that the full letter be printed in the record.

I want to ask the American people, I want to ask Republican Senators, who is a better guardian of the civil rights of African Americans when it comes to police reform. The NAACP or Leader McConnell?

If this bill were such a good path to reform, why wouldn't civil rights organizations, from one end of America to another, say go forward, maybe we'll get something done?

Because they know the bill is a ruse and nothing will get done and that's why it's designed, that's the way it’s designed.

Who do you believe when it comes to civil rights and police accountability? Leader McConnell or the lawyer for the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor?

Who do you believe, the lawyer of the Floyd and Taylor families or Leader McConnell, who we have never heard speak on this issue on the floor until the last few weeks?

These groups have been speaking about it for decades. The idea that this bill is a step forward, when it will lead to nowhere.

Leader McConnell keeps saying you can cut the bill off when you don't get your 60 votes. What kind of solution is that? When it's a junky bill, when it's a bill that doesn't go far enough at all, why don't we put a good bill on the floor that can pass?

Let me read what the Leadership Conference on Human and Civil Rights said. They have had a hand in drafting every meaningful piece of civil rights legislation passed in Congress in the last few years. This bill, the JUSTICE bill, the Republican bill, “is an inadequate response to the decades of pain, hardship, and devastation that Black people have and continue to endure as a result of systematic racism and lax policies that fail to hold police accountable for misconduct. This bill, the Civil Rights Conference continues, falls woefully short of the comprehensive reform needed to address the current policing policies, the current policing crisis, and achieve meaningful reform.”

Listen to this sentence from 138 civil rights organizations about this bill that Leader McConnell has put on the floor, “It is deeply problematic to meet this moment with a menial incremental approach that offers more funding to police and few policies to effectively address the constant loss of Black lives at the hands of the police.”

Leader McConnell, here's what the civil rights organizations say about your bill. They rip off any cloaking about what this bill really does and what it is.

I want to read it again, specifically to our Republican leader who thinks this is a good bill and a great attempt to go forward. “It is deeply problematic to meet this moment with a menial incremental approach that offers more funding to police and few policies to effectively address the constant loss of Black lives at the hands of police.”

Who do you believe, America? The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights or Leader McConnell?

Who do you believe, America? NAACP or the Republican caucus?

Who do you believe, America? The lawyer for the Taylor and Floyd families or President Trump who has these members quaking in their boots if they do something that he doesn't like?

That's one of the other reasons we're in such a pickle here. They are so afraid of President Trump, who's willing to say overtly racist statements, like “Kung flu” several times yesterday, that they can't even bring themselves to bring a bill on the floor that has a modicum of respect from the civil rights community. When you call it menial, you are not respecting a bill.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund—founded by the great Justice Thurgood Marshall, here’s what it said. They have been fighting for these things for 80 years—not 8 days: “It cannot support legislation that does not embody a strong accountability framework for police officers and law enforcement who engage in misconduct.”

Here’s what Benjamin Crump, the lawyer said, the Republican legislation is “in direct contrast to the demands of the people” who have been protesting; “the Black community is tired of the lip service, and shocked that the [Republican proposal] can [even] be thought of as legislation.”

The lawyer for the Taylor and Floyd families. Leader McConnell has invoked their names. That's the right thing to do. But then deviates totally from what their lawyer says needs to be done to deal with these kinds of deaths. Again, Benjamin Crump, lawyer for Floyd and Taylor families: “the Black community is tired of the lip service and shock that the Republican proposal can even be thought of as legislation.”

So don't get on your sanctimonious horse, Leader McConnell. You have none of the civil rights community behind you.

The most pre-eminent civil rights groups in our nation’s history are speaking. The lawyer representing the families of the Americans who have lost their loved ones at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve is speaking. They have one simple, urgent goal, and it has nothing to do with politics.

Leader McConnell accuses what we're doing as being filled with politics. Does Leader McConnell accuse all 138 civil rights organizations of wanting to do this for politics? No, no, no. I think 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.

He may be afraid of President Trump. He may be afraid of some police organizations. I don't know what it is.

Here's what they say in their letter: “We, therefore, urge you, the Senators, to oppose the JUSTICE Act and vote no on the motion to proceed.”

I dare the leader to come out here and say they're playing politics. Come right out and say it because it's false. And we, the Democrats, are aligned with what they believe.

Now, this morning, we heard the predictable histrionics from the Republican leader. The accusations of mindless obstruction and outrageous hypocrisy!

Leader McConnell should spare us all the lectures about how laws get made. He knows how. It’s through bipartisanship.

The leader talks about bipartisanship and introduces a totally partisan bill and introduces a process where Democrats have had no input. That's partisanship.

Want to be bipartisan, Leader McConnell? Sit down, assemble a group. some from your side—maybe Senator Scott, who's greatly respected—some from our side—maybe Senators Booker and Harris, who are greatly respected—a few others, and let them sit down and come up with a proposal. It doesn't have to be behind closed doors.

And the leader is worried about closed doors? There's something called the Judiciary Committee. It doesn't meet in secret.

Why wasn't this bill referred there, where there would be at least something of a bipartisan process? Who is he kidding? Who is he kidding?

You don't want closed doors, Leader McConnell? Send it to the Judiciary Committee. Something as important as this should have gone through that to begin with.

And let me repeat, Republicans came here, dropped the bill on the floor and said, take it or leave it.

Even if we were to get on the bill, there is no conceivable way to rectify all of its many problems. It's not realistic we can fix this bill, even with a series of amendments, because they will require 60 votes and we won't get 60 on any of them because if they believed in these ideas—as Senator Harris said—they would have put them in the bill to begin with. They didn't.

The Republican majority has given the Senate a bad bill and no credible way to sufficiently improve it. Senator McConnell—cleverly, maybe cynically—designed a legislative cul-de-sac from which no bill—no bill at all—could emerge.

And whether the bill lacks sixty votes now, or sixty votes in a few days, we know the Republican Leader will accuse Democrats of filibustering and claim that we’re the opponents of progress, as he did this morning.


Does anyone truly believe that Democrats are the obstacle to reforming our police departments?

Does anyone believe that? We announced a much better, much bolder, much more effective bill three weeks ago and, unlike the Republican legislation, the Justice in Policing Act will actually pass one chamber of Congress. And when it passes the House, the nation is going to say to Leader McConnell, get something moving in the senate. And Leader McConnell knows and everyone in this body knows, you have to do that in a bipartisan way. That's how the Senate has always worked and still does.

Senate Republicans and their president — who proclaims that we should “cherish” the memory of confederate traitors who fought to preserve slavery, who gleefully call the coronavirus the “Kung Flu” with hardly a word of criticism from his party — expect you believe that Republicans are the true champions of racial justice and police reform. That’s what Senate Republicans want America to believe. America ain't buying it.

The same Republican majority that has demonstrated a complete lack of urgency to address the public health and economic crises that are devastating Black America.

The same Republican majority that has refused time and time again to call out President Trump’s bigotry and intolerance.

The same Republican majority that has run a conveyor belt of anti-civil rights, vote suppressing judicial nominees, including one today—today!—the very same day we vote on policing reform.

They want you to believe that all of a sudden they want to get something done? As they say in Brooklyn, forget about it.

So when you hear President Trump and Senator McConnell trying to cast blame for lack of progress on police reform, I have three words for you: consider the source. Look at their history. Look at what they've done. Look at just said, Leader McConnell proudly brags he's putting someone on the Fifth Circuit who has opposed voting rights for his whole career. That’s who wants to move things forward? I doubt it.

Here’s the truth: Senator McConnell has been around a long time and he knows how to produce a workable outcome in the Senate if he really wants to.

We have done it before on criminal justice reform and annual budgets, the national defense bill and the lands package we passed. Even on difficult immigration issues, the Senate can function if the leadership allows it to. In 2013, a bipartisan group of Senators produced compromise immigration reform legislation that garnered more than two-thirds support in this chamber—on immigration no less. So what do these bills that pass have in common? Bipartisanship. Sponsorship and support. What does this bill have? Only partisan support. Not a single Democrat supports this bill. Their bill.

While I certainly feel obligated to point out the contradictions and hypocrisy in the Republican Leader's statements and history, I am not dismayed by the likely failure of the Republican bill today. All is not lost. There is a better path and one we should take once this bill fails to go forward.

After this bill goes down, there should be bipartisan discussions with the object of coming together around a constructive starting point for police reform. Leader McConnell can pick a few of his members as negotiators, I could designate a few members from our caucus, and they can sit down, talk to one another, and find a bill that we’re all ready to start debating. We could send that bill to the committee. Open process. It would be refined. This is an important issue. That, Leader McConnell, is what legislating – successful legislating – would look like.

And I have no doubt that we could come up with a bill that’s ready for the floor in a few weeks.
We know how to do this. But in the rush to get this issue off of their backs, to check some political box and move on, my Republican colleagues have forgotten or are simply ignoring everything they know about how the Senate works.

My hope, my prayer, is that after this bill fails today, after Leader McConnell’s path reaches its pre-ordained dead-end, one he intended to happen, we can start down the path of bipartisanship. Not a bill designed, put on the floor by one party.

If Americans of all ages and colors and faiths can join together in a righteous chorus calling for change, as they have in big cities and small towns across American, then we in the Senate can at least try to come together to deliver it.

Democrats and Republicans, working together to solve an age-old problem. The past few weeks have magnified a very old wound in our country. The binding up of that wound is a project that demands more from all of us: Black Americans and white Americans, police departments and the protesters in the streets, Democrats and Republicans.

So let us not—please, let us not—retreat once again to our partisan corners after the vote today. Let us instead, appeal instead to the better angels of our nature, reach out one another, Democrats and Republicans together, and try to forge a path forward, together. 


Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

JUNE 25, 2020 

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, legislation implementing bold, unprecedented reforms to curb police brutality, end racial profiling and eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you, Madam Speaker. 

I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank him for his stalwart support for justice in policing.  Thank you so much for bringing this legislation to the Floor, to you, Mr. Nadler, Members of the Judiciary Committee and the Congressional Black Caucus.

Madam Speaker, exactly one month ago, George Floyd spoke his final words, ‘I can't breathe,’ and changed the course of history in our nation.  I’ll never forget that, nor will many others.  I also will never forget his calling out for his mama right there at the end.

Since that horrific day in Minneapolis, Americans from every walk of life and corner of the country have been marching, protesting and demanding that this moment of national agony become a moment of national action, action.  Today, by passing the George Floyd – George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the House is honoring his life and the lives of all killed by police brutality by saying never again and taking action.

The Congress and the country are well-served by the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus, the conscience of the Congress, as we call it, with George – with John Lewis and so many other leaders – which has been developing these reforms, contained in this legislation, for decades, 49 years to be exact. 

We are blessed to be led by CBC Chair Karen Bass who brings 47 years of leadership advocating for an end to police brutality.  She brings extraordinary gentility, grace and strength to this fight. 

As you know, Madam Speaker, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act will fundamentally transform the culture of policing to address systemic racism, curb police brutality and save lives, as it puts an end to shielding police from accountability.  We don't paint all police with the same brush.  But, for those who need to be painted with that brush, we need to take the action contained in this bill. 

This legislation contains bold, unprecedented reforms, including banning chokeholds.  People say, ‘Well, why can't you compromise with the other side?’  Well, they don't ban chokeholds.  We ban chokeholds.  So are we supposed to come up with a number of chokeholds we are going to agree with?  No, we ban chokeholds.  Stopping no-knock warrants on drug offenses, entering – ending the court-created qualified immunity doctrine that is a barrier to holding police officers accountable for wrongful conduct. 

Our distinguished Chairman enumerated all these things just now: combating racial profiling; mandating data collection, including with body and dashboard cameras; strengthening independent investigations of police departments; creating a publicly accessible national police misconduct registry – publicly accessible: that's what the Senate bill does not do.  ‘We'll take the data and keep it to ourselves.’  Well, what's the use? – and establishing strong new standards for policing.

This week, a collection – a coalition of more than 135 leading civil and human rights groups sent a letter stating their opposition to the Senate bill.  We have our bill.  They have their bill.  And this is what 135 leading civil rights groups had to say: the Senate act ‘is an inadequate response to the decades of pain, hardship and devastation that Black people have and continue to endure as a result of systemic racism, and lax policies that fail to hold police accountable for misconduct.  The bill falls woefully short of the comprehensive reform needed to address the current policing crisis and achieve meaningful law enforcement accountability.  It is deeply problematic to meet this moment with a menial, incremental approach, and few policies to effectively address the constant loss of Black lives at the hands of police.  Passing watered-down legislation that fails to remedy the actual harms resulting in the loss of life is a moral statement that is inconsistent with a genuine belief that Black lives matter.’ 

‘Further,’ the letter says, ‘any attempt to amend or salvage’ the Senate act ‘will only serve to check the box and claim reform when, in actuality, no reform has occurred to combat police misconduct and to protect Black lives.’  135 leading civil and human rights organizations said that.

House Democrats hoped to work in a bipartisan way to create meaningful change to end the epidemic of racial injustice and police brutality.  However, it is disappointing that the Senate GOP has ignored the voices of hundreds of thousands of people peacefully calling out for justice and progress, day in and day out, week in and week out, for the past month. 

Their proposal, the Senate proposal, mimics the words of real reform but takes no action to make any difference.  It's inadequate and unworthy of support.  During this moment of action – anguish – during this moment of anguish, which we want to turn into action, it would be a moral failure to accept anything less than transformational change.  Yet, it is clear that the White House has zero interest in real change. 

Yesterday, the White House went so far to issue a – to issue a veto threat stating that the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would deter good people from pursuing careers in law enforcement.  No, Mr. President, good people are pursuing careers in law enforcement.  Banning chokeholds is not going to deter good people from pursuing careers in law enforcement. 

That is their concern, the White House's concern.  Hundreds of people are dying.  Vetoing this will make the White House, what? Ignoring of this epidemic? 

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is a bill that American people are insisting on, that this moment in history demands, and what is shameful, bad faith act to dismiss the will of the public out of hand. 

Two weeks ago, Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, testified so beautifully and powerfully before Mr. Nadler's Committee, the Judiciary Committee, on this legislation.  He said, that day, ‘The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough.  Be the leaders that this country, this world, needs.’  That was his challenge to us. 

Then he said, ‘George's name means something.  If his death ends up changing the world for the better, and I think it will, I think it has, then he will have died as he lived.  It's on you to make sure his death isn't in vain.’

Today, with this bill, we have the opportunity and the obligation to ensure that George Floyd's death and the deaths of so many are not in vain.  Their lives matter.  Black lives matter.

With that, I urge a strong bipartisan on the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act.  Justice is for George by passing this bill. 

With that, I yield back, and I thank the Chairman for his leadership on these issues, not only today and this past month, but over time.  Thank you, Mr. Nadler.

I urge an aye vote and I yield back.  Thank you, Madam Speak