House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday accused Republicans of “trying to get away with murder” with their police reform bill, noting stark differences between plans offered by the GOP and congressional Democrats.
Pelosi emphasized that the GOP bill incentivizes police departments to ban chokeholds rather than mandating them to do so, saying Republicans will have to add more to their bill to make it acceptable to her party.
“What the Senate did…is unsalvageable,” she said on CBS Radio. “We’re saying no chokeholds, they’re not saying no chokeholds. There’s a big difference. What’s the compromise? Some chokeholds?”
“In other words, for something to happen, they’re going to have to face the reality of police brutality, the rallies of the need for justice in policing and the recognition that there are many, many good people in law enforcement but not all, and that we have to address those concerns. When they admit that and have some suggestions that are worthy of consideration, but so far they were trying to get away with murder, actually, the murder of George Floyd.”
The push for police reform has heightened after George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was killed in Minneapolis last month by an officer who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Democrats and Republicans appear to be heading toward a stalemate on police reform, with Democrats saying they’ll refuse to back the GOP’s plan.
“There is no great imagination about what we can be. It doesn’t challenge us to come together. What it does is it guarantees that the cycle of violence in our country, the cycle of the abuse of civil rights, the cycle of death that has so moved so many Americans will continue,” Senator Cory Booker said from the Senate floor Tuesday.
The two parties chiefly disagree over chokeholds, no-knock warrants in drug cases and qualified immunity, the rule protecting officers from legal liability over their actions.
Democrats want to ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, while the GOP plan would bar state and local law enforcement departments that don’t ban chokeholds from receiving critical federal grants and force departments to report the use of no-knock warrants to the attorney general at the federal level.
Democrats also want to scrap qualified immunity, while Republicans say that’s a poison pill. However, Senator Mike Braun has introduced a separate bill to only provide an officer with qualified immunity if the conduct in question “had previously been authorized or required by federal or state statute or regulation” or if a court has found it is “consistent with the Constitution and federal laws.”
Pelosi touted Democrats’ bill as better situated to make meaningful changes in policing and put the onus on Republicans to adjust their bill.
“What we have put together in the House of Representatives will make a difference, make a difference in justice in policing, make a difference in reducing brutality in terms of…actions with police, and in minority communities especially,” she said. “They’re just going have to up their ante in terms of their sincerity and trying to make a change to get a job done.”