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GOP face of ‘future’ intensifies police reform talks with Dems

But while Biden used his first speech in Congress to push for passage of a police bill by the end of May, Scott has used his GOP rebuttal to highlight what he sees as a Democratic derailment of his plan – a reminder of the tensions between the corridors that still exist on the thorny issue.

“I extended an olive branch. I have proposed amendments. But Democrats used filibuster to prevent the debate from happening, ”Scott said in his speech, which quickly fueled discussions about a presidential election in 2024.

Asked about Biden’s timeline on Thursday, Scott would not commit to the specific date: “I haven’t set the May 25 deadline. I think the best thing we can do is keep what we are doing in mind. “

Democratic leaders have also not set an official deadline. President Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that a “good bipartisan bill” will be presented “when we are ready”.

The bipartisan effort to craft legislation to deter police violence largely waned last year after Democrats blocked Scott’s bill in the Senate and broader discussions collapsed.

However, a smaller group, including Bass, Scott and some members of the bipartisan House problem-solving caucus, continued to speak during the 2020 election. Bass and Scott are now ready to try again, this time with Biden in charge. .

They find that many of the same policy issues that sparked the talks last spring remain significant hurdles. Democrats still say last year’s Scott bill was largely toothless and his proposal for federal incentives rather than tough new rules wouldn’t do enough to change the culture of policing across the country. country.

Republicans, meanwhile, oppose provisions that would reduce legal barriers to prosecuting or prosecuting police officers – a major demand by civil rights advocates.

Following Thursday’s meeting, Scott reiterated his opposition to lowering the bar to prosecute police officers by amending federal police misconduct laws. Graham agreed that resolving the aisle disputes on this front “was going to be a challenge.”

Durbin said lawmakers had a “positive spirit” in the room, but still faced a number of divisive issues. This includes restrictions on transfers of military materiel to law enforcement, federal restrictions on strangulations and no-strike warrants, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. Another obstacle is the legal doctrine known as qualified immunity, which protects the police from prosecution by victims or their families for alleged violations of civil rights.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.) has launched a compromise that resembles Scott’s proposal to place financial liability for civil rights violations on police services, rather than officers. Whitehouse said Thursday that it would protect “police from personal liability – the ‘bad night problem’ – that so many of our colleagues have expressed.

When asked about Whitehouse’s proposal, Graham praised it and said it “takes a lot of pressure off the cops.” But negotiators did not share specific language on it, obscuring how much it would change the current law.

It is also unclear whether such a nuanced immunity compromise will pass before civil rights activists who wish to hold certain officers accountable, denouncing the scarcity of disciplinary action or successful legal action against officers.

Meetings between lawmakers and those close to George Floyd, Eric Garner, Botham Jean and Terence Crutcher came a day after Biden called on Congress to pass police reform within weeks.

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