Jun 26, 2020 6:30 PM

Blunt says Congress can pass police reform, if sides will negotiate

Posted Jun 26, 2020 6:30 PM

By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

United States Sen. Roy Blunt insists a police reform bill which has failed to advance in the Senate isn’t dead.

“The Scott bill doesn’t have to be dead,” Blunt tells reporters during a conference call.

Blunt, a Republican, co-sponsored the police reform measure sponsored by Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina.

It received a majority vote in the US Senate, 55-to-45, but it failed to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to move forward in the Senate.

Blunt points out the top Republican in the Senate made a parliamentary move so the bill could be reconsidered if sentiment toward it change.

“I think the Scott bill was an example of the problem that the country absolutely wants to solve, understands in deeper ways than we have before, and is supportive of the government taking action,” according to Blunt.

Congress is working to address concerns which arose in wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.

Blunt wants the Senate to take the measure up again, pass it, and then go into negotiations with the House.

The House approved its measure Thursday 236-to-181.

Blunt says there’s no reason for Senate Democrats to block the Republican measure. He says they can work with Republicans to amend the bill.

“We still could go back to our own product, our own Senate bill, put together I think very effectively and explained very effectively by Sen. Scott from South Carolina and amend that bill as you would need to if we really want to legislate.”

House Democrats want to ban police use of chokeholds while Senate Republicans prefer offering incentives to end the practice. Democrats have proposed banning no-knock drug warrants and, more problematic, stripping qualified immunity from police officers, which would open officers up to civil lawsuits. Republicans say they won’t vote to end qualified immunity.

Blunt questions whether Senate Democrats are really interested in resolving the issue.

“Our friends on the other side in an election year I think would rather have the issue than the solution,” Blunt says. “We could have proven that wasn’t true this week by beginning to work toward a solution rather than saying no, we’re just not going to take up the bill that the majority offers and the majority in the Senate should have the opportunity to offer the base bill. Certainly, that would be the case if the Democrats were in the majority in the Senate and they know it.”