Tim Scott Unveils the JUSTICE Act, Points to Three Major Reforms

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Posted: Jun 17, 2020 10:15 AM
Tim Scott Unveils the JUSTICE Act, Points to Three Major Reforms

Source: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

There's a false binary in the U.S. right now, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said. Too many people believe that you have to pick a side: Law enforcement, or communities of color. 

"The right answer is, I support America," Scott said on Wednesday as he unveiled the JUSTICE Act with a handful of his Republican colleagues. He believes the legislation can help "restore confidence" in police in minority communities.

"The overwhelming number of officers want to do their job and go home to their family," Scott said. "The overwhelming amount of officers are good people." 

The legislation focuses on three major areas. First, Scott explained, it will require police departments to provide more information to the FBI. Right now only 40 percent of departments send information to the agency.

"We have to have the right information so outcomes lead to safer officers and safer suspects," Scott said. 

The bill will also focus largely on de-escalation training, and implore officers to intervene in situations when an officer is using excessive force. In Minneapolis, when officer Derek Chauvin kept his neck on George Floyd's neck for nearly 9 minutes, even after his body went lifeless, his three fellow officers stood around as spectators.

Thirdly, the JUSTICE Act will provide the accountability of misconduct and transparency.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged that after they vote on two circuit judges, they're going to turn to Scott's bill. McConnell urged Democrats, "If they want to make a law and not just make a point," they should work with them.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), another co-sponsor of the bill, had a direct message for Democrats, noting that they had eight years to ban chokeholds under President Obama, and didn't get it done. He said they have a unique opportunity to enact change now. 

The Democrats revealed the Justice and Policing Act a few weeks ago, and Graham noted that there's a lot of overlaps with the GOP bill, but there's also "some real differences." After multiple Democratic colleagues told him they want to try to reconcile those differences, Graham said he was "hopeful there's going to be a genuine reform."

Another cosponsor, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), said he actually had the chance to talk to Floyd's family recently, and as fellow Texans they told him they want "Texas sized justice" for George. That's what they wants to deliver, Cornyn said. He highlighted how the JUSTICE Act will include a commission that will report back to Congress in 18 months with specific suggestions for police reform.

Sen. Scott has been very candid about how, as a black man, he was once stopped seven times on the road in one year. It even happened once this year. He knows more than most in Congress how tense things are right now between minorities and police. He's the right leader at the right time.