Cory Booker refutes Tim Scott’s claim that police reform talks failed because Democrats want to relieve police burden
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) said on Sunday it was “unfortunate” that Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) blamed Congressional police reform negotiations that fell through on Democrats who “want the police degrade’.
Earlier that same day, Scott told CBS’s Face the Nation that Booker wanted him to agree to a “lose-lose proposal” that included limited or reduced funding for police forces.
Two-party talks to review police practices ended without an agreement on Wednesday, marking the failure of an effort that began in April after white police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis.
Speaking to CNN’s State of the Union, Booker said the bill would have done the opposite of what his Republican colleague claims.
“This is a bill that would have brought in millions of dollars for law enforcement,” he told host Jake Tapper. “Extra dollars because we want to help cops with mental health issues. We want to collect more data, so we have to give more resources.’
“We wanted more transparency, higher professional standards and real accountability. If you break the law, you should not be shielded from it. Those were the lines all along.’
Senator Cory Booker said it was ‘unfortunate’ that Republicans accused him of wanting to harm the police
Floyd’s death, along with the publicized deaths of numerous African Americans in or after encounters with police, sparked protests across the US.
Negotiations on police reform began under the Trump administration and were led by Booker and Scott in a display of duality amid a more divided political environment.
But repeated calls to “downgrade the police,” especially in Democrat-controlled cities and among progressive lawmakers, have wedged the already sensitive conversations.
Scott told CBS that what could have been a reckoning on police tactics failed because the Democrats “walked away.”
“I’m not sure why they missed the moment. I’ve sat at this table twice already. They ran away twice. They did this a year ago and they’re doing it again now,” Scott said.
Democrats last year blocked a Republican bill they said was too weak, while a tougher House-approved bill was derailed by the GOP in the Senate this year.
Scott claimed they agreed on a range of issues, including military equipment, mental health and emergency services, but claimed they fell short in funding the police, and specifically cited Booker for criticism.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott said Democrats were trying to force him into a ‘lose-lose proposal’
“Many provisions in this bill that he wanted me to agree to limited or reduced funding from the police. That’s a lose-lose proposition. If you reduce the funding of the police, you even lose lives in the communities. Our approach was a win-win approach. We want the best to wear the badge and we want the vulnerable to be protected,” Scott said.
The South Carolina Republican said there were “eight or nine issues” on which he disagreed with Democrats, most of which involved withholding federal grants and other funding as punishment for non-compliance with regulations.
“If you tell local law enforcement you’re not eligible for money, that’s relieving the police, there’s no way you can twist that,” Scott said.
Booker directly challenged Scott, acknowledging that binding federal funds to regulatory compliance is a common provision.
He added that part of the reform included codifying an executive order from former President Donald Trump into law.
In June 2020, Trump signed an order that created new guidelines for police use of force and de-escalation tactics, and established a national database to track police misconduct. Some of the reforms in Trump’s order were linked to Justice Department grants.
Calls for police reform at the federal level were fueled after nationwide protests against police brutality that began in the summer of 2020 over the deaths of numerous black Americans in police custody
Scott had told CBS he disagreed with Trump’s noncompliance provision.
Booker said the same thing on CNN: “We couldn’t even come to an agreement to commemorate what all the law of the land is through an executive order.”
Scott said the Democrats were trying to “nationalize the local police force.”
“What the Democrats were asking was a simple matter. They asked for more reporting on serious bodily harm to death. I said, that’s a good idea. When they wanted to nationalize the local police, I said, ‘That’s a bad idea,’ Scott said.
He suggested that a federal database could exist for “any time you have any interaction” with an officer, but it should be strictly voluntary.
At one point, the South Carolina legislature emphatically accused Democrats of “playing politics.”
But Booker refused to criticize his GOP colleague.
Booker declined to criticize Scott directly, but insisted he would continue to fight for reform
The two have said they are friends and have cited similar experiences in which they were challenged by officers.
He said both he and Scott are “good people” who “just couldn’t make it happen,” but vowed to keep going.
“This is one of those times when it’s not time to blame. We have to take responsibility for people,” the New Jersey Democrat said.
“I take responsibility for this fight. I continue to work. I’m not going to throw rocks at Republicans or Tim Scott. That’s not constructive.’
In a written statement Wednesday, President Joe Biden called the killing of Floyd “a stain on the soul of America,” adding, “We will be remembered for how we responded to the call.”
He said Senate Republicans had “rejected modest reforms” that Trump had supported and which some law enforcement organizations were open to.
Citing new Justice Department policies regarding strangulation and other practices, he said his administration would look for ways, including executive orders it could issue, “to meet the American ideal of equal justice under the law’.