WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate’s only black Republican said on Thursday he plans to introduce the party’s police reform bill by the middle of next week – a delay from his previous Friday target – as Republicans wrestle with their response to a sweeping Democratic proposal in the wake of George Floyd’s killing.
Senator Tim Scott, leading his party’s effort in the Senate, said he was meeting with Senate and House of Representatives Republicans to draw up the measure, which follows nationwide protests over racial and police brutality sparked by Floyd’s death. Republicans control the Senate. Democrats control the House.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Scott said.
Scott said he expects to make some additions to a draft written earlier in the week that included provisions for more police training, more funding for police body cameras and making lynching a federal hate crime.
Kevin McCarthy, the House’s top Republican, said his caucus also is working on a proposal.
House Democrats, sharply critic of Republican President Donald Trump’s handling of the aftermath of Floyd’s death, plan later this month to hold a vote on their proposal, including making it easier for victims of misconduct to sue police for damages.
Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last month after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes was the latest in a string of deaths of black people at the hands of police that have sparked calls for reforms. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-minneapolis-police-protests/push-to-reform-u-s-police-intensifies-ahead-of-floyd-funeral-idUSKBN23F0L1)
Most Americans, including a majority of Republicans, support sweeping reforms such as bans on chokeholds and racial profiling, a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Thursday showed.
McCarthy said there were elements in the Democratic proposal that Republicans could work with them on, such as banning chokeholds. But McCarthy emphasized Republican support for police.
“In America, no one should be judged by the color of their skin,” McCarthy said, “and no one should be judged by the uniform they wear.”
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Alistair Bell and Will Dunham)