What Did Mazie Hirono Just Call Tim Scott's Police Reform Bill?

Posted: Jun 23, 2020 8:40 AM
What Did Mazie Hirono Just Call Tim Scott's Police Reform Bill?

Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Everyone wants to see justice served after the brutal Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) believes he has the solution. His JUSTICE Act includes several police reforms that he wants police departments to adopt in order to rebuild trust in their communities. Sen. Scott has been working on this legislation for five years, ever since another unarmed black man, Walter Scott, was shot in the back and killed in South Carolina.

But Democrats had their own idea. Chuck Schumer recently unveiled the Justice and Policing Act. And while there is some overlap with Sen. Scott's bill, they refused to even consider a debate on it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wondered what the problem was.

"Now we read this: 'Senate Democrats are agonizing over what to do about Senate Republicans' police reform proposal,'" McConnell read. "What's there to agonize over?" 

As he notes, nearly everyone from the Trump White House to House Democratic leadership wants to move on this subject.  

"So, maybe the only group left in Washington that are reportedly agonizing over whether to block a discussion of police reform or let it proceed, seem to be our Senate Democratic colleagues."

Schumer recently declared he wanted to get police reform done by the 4th of July. But with Democrats to swiftly dismissing Scott's proposal, McConnell concludes that they are more interested in "making a point than making a law."

Sen. Scott has a personal stake in this issue. As he's candidly described, he has been stopped walking into a Senate building and he was stopped on the road seven times in a single year. His only offense, he says, was "driving while black."

The JUSTICE Act will focus on de-escalation and intervention training, giving officers a better idea of when to step in when they see an officer abusing a suspect. The measure will also seek more trainers and recruiters from diverse communities so departments can better reflect the communities they serve. It will ensure when a candidate is interviewed, the department will have access to his or her disciplinary records.

Another "critical" aspect of his legislation, Scott explains, is law enforcement reporting forms, which give a rundown of the officer's history on the force. Finally, the JUSTICE Act will place more body cameras on officers, fining those who don't turn them on.

How are these provisions "agonizing decisions" or "tough calls?"

And yet, as you can see, few Democrats are budging. And without 60 votes, Scott's bill doesn't have much of a chance. For Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) it wasn't enough to just say "no," she dismissed Sen. Scott's years long effort as a "half-ass bill."

By the way, Sen. Scott, who is the only black Republican senator in Washington, has had to endure some nasty name calling as he embarks on this important campaign. Once again critics have labeled him the "token" of the Republican Party. But he's kept his head high.

McConnell has scheduled a vote on the JUSTICE Act for this week.