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Sen. Scott's JUSTICE Act Blocked in Senate

In two sentences, here’s what happened yesterday: (1) Sen. Tim Scott had a strong bill to improve relationships and transparency between law enforcement and those they serve. (2) Liberals in the Senate torpedoed it, ending any chance of meaningful reform for the foreseeable future.

There are over 600,000 people in our congressional district, and I’m now on a mission to make sure they all know the truth about this effort. So let’s start with some facts:

First, Sen. Scott has actually been working on this legislation for over a year. It’s called the Justice Act. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find links to the text of that bill plus an easy to understand summary.

Among other benefits, the Justice Act would: 🔹 increase police access to grants for body-worn cameras 🔹 incentivize agencies to cease the use of chokeholds EXCEPT when the officer’s life is in danger 🔹 improve training on de-escalation and the duty to intervene 🔹 make lynching a federal crime 🔹 increase penalties for false police reports 🔹 assist local departments with minority hiring undertake a thorough review of our criminal justice system.

And the list of goes on. In the House, I’m co-sponsoring a “companion bill” identical to the one Sen. Scott proposed in the Senate. While I’m certainly open for debate and discussion on its provisions, this is a good bill that has the support of many community and law enforcement leaders. However, it’s unlikely this bill will come up for a vote.

Instead, liberals in the House have proposed a different piece of legislation on their own. This one is called the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020. While there is some overlap with the Justice Act, there are several elements of their bill I cannot support. For example, they allow NO provisions for the use of chokeholds EVEN when an officer’s life is in danger. They make sweeping changes to qualified immunity, which would make it easier to sue officers who are just trying to do their job. And their bill would give the federal government too much influence over how state and local law enforcement agencies do their job. They are the ones who know best how to police their communities, not bureaucrats in Washington!

Even though conservatives in the House were allowed zero input and no amendments were accepted, House Democrat Leadership has gone ahead and scheduled a vote on their bill today which is expected to pass, since the left controls the majority of the House. That bill will serve as the House’s version of police reform.

Now, Republican Senate Leadership is not going to entertain the left’s version from the House, just like the House Democrat Leadership is not going to entertain the Justice Act from Sen. Scott. BUT… if both chambers can at least pass something, then there are procedural steps that can be taken to keep the process alive, in an effort to (eventually, hopefully) reach language that everyone can agree on.

*** But both parties must WANT to reach an agreement for this to happen! Which takes us right back over to the Senate…

Yesterday, liberals in the Senate blocked debate on Sen. Scott’s bill. They didn't block a final vote on the legislation, mind you. Instead, this was just a motion to simply allow the Justice Act to be debated and amended. They could have allowed debate but still could have voted against the final product if they weren’t happy, but they refused to let it even get that far.

In fact, yesterday Sen. Scott explained how he was trying to work across the aisle to rally support for this effort. At first, liberals in the Senate wanted five amendments. Then five became twenty! And then once they realized he was happy for the Senate to debate twenty amendments, they just walked out and blocked his bill altogether.

I want to thank Sen. Tim Scott for all his done here. It’s maddening to me that liberals in the Senate brought this important effort to an indefinite stalemate.


Full text of JUSTICE Act:

Section-by-section summary of JUSTICE Act:

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