WATCH: Representative Tim Scott’s Senate Floor Speech on the JUSTICE Act

Getty Senator Tim Scott.

After South Carolina U.S. Senator Tim Scott’s JUSTICE Act failed to pass due to objections from Congressional Democrats, he delivered an impassioned speech in which he said a momentous opportunity had been lost. “My friends on the other side just said no,” he said. “Not no to the legislation … they just said no.”

Scott, the lone Black Republican in the Senate, had already gone before the Senate in hopes that his bill would pass, urging Democratic senators to rise above politics and support a piece of legislation that he said would have provided “resources for body cameras, for anti-lynching, for de-escalation training.”

However, many Democrats said the bill did not go far enough and refused to support it; one Democrat, Representative Dick Durbin, said the bill represented a “token, half-hearted” attempt at reform, which he later apologized for, Politico reported.

However, Scott did receive some support across the aisle. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Doug Jones as well as Independent Angus King crossed party lines to support the bill, but that was not enough and the final vote was 55-45, CNN reported. On the other side, President Donald Trump’s spokesperson, Kayleigh McEnany, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both said they were fully behind Scott’s bill.

Still, the JUSTICE Act failed and was just four votes shy of the 60 votes it needed (McConnell changed his final vote to a “no” to allow the issue to be reconsidered at a later date) even though some Democrats joined in support of the bill, USA Today reported. One hang-up is that Democrats want to strip out the issue of qualified immunity, which makes police officers nearly impervious to lawsuits filed against them for misconduct. However, Scott called that issue a “poison pill.”

Trump signed an order on June 16 in response to the calls for police reform following the death of George Floyd, USA Today reported. That order called for a national database to be created to allow police departments to track officers with histories of abuse and also called for mental health professionals to be sent out with police officers on calls where homelessness, drug addiction or mental illness may be a factor.


Scott Said Stereotyping Republicans & Politics Contributed to the Bill’s Failure

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) remarks following JUSTICE Act voteAfter the Senate blocked the Republican police reform bill, Just and Unifying Solutions To Invigorate Communities Everywhere Act of 2020, or the JUSTICE Act, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) spoke on the floor about his personal experiences and how they helped him write the JUSTICE Act. Full video here: https://cs.pn/3ewhgIm2020-06-24T20:31:52Z

statement from Scott’s office — in which he also said that instead of Democrats receiving 70% of what they wanted, they now faced the likelihood of getting zero — read in part:

This process is not broken because of the legislation. This is a broken process beyond that one piece of legislation. It’s one of the reasons why communities of color – Americans of all colors – are losing faith in the institutions of authority and power in this nation …

The actual problem is not what is being offered. It is who is offering it…. As a black man, I get the ‘who’ being the problem. It’s one of the reasons why I went to Senator McConnell and said I want to lead this conversation…. What I missed in this issue is that the stereotyping of Republicans is just as toxic to the outcomes of the most vulnerable communities in this nation…. They cannot allow this party to be seen as a party that reaches out to all communities in this nation.

During his speech, Scott said that he had tried to work with Democrats and even got McConnell to OK “20 amendments,” but Democrats still refused to support the bill:

Today we lost — I lost — a vote on a piece of legislation that would have led to systemic change in the relationship between the communities of color and the law enforcement community. We would have broken this concept in this nation that somehow some way you have to either be for law enforcement or for communities of color. That is a false binary choice. It’s just not true. This legislation spoke to the important issues that have brought us here today. We wouldn’t be here if it were not, as Senator Perdue alluded to, for the death of yet another African American man, George Floyd.

Today we lost — I lost — a vote on a piece of legislation that would have led to systemic change in the relationship between the communities of color and the law enforcement community. We would have broken this concept in this nation that somehow some way you have to either be for law enforcement or for communities of color. That is a false binary choice. It’s just not true. This legislation spoke to the important issues that have brought us here today. We wouldn’t be here if it were not, as Senator Perdue alluded to, for the death of yet another African American man, George Floyd.

He also accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership of playing politics:

We were four votes short of saying yes to having a powerful tool of pooling resources to compel behavior on chokeholds. Because I believe if we’d gotten on the bill, we would have passed this bill. But that is the problem, by the way. That’s the who I’m talking about. As a black guy, I know how it feels to walk into a store and have the little clerk follow me around, even as a United States Senator. I get that. I’ve experienced that. I understand the traffic stops. I understand that when I’m walking down the street and some Young lady clutches on to her purse and my instinct is to get a little further away because I don’t want any issues with anybody, I understand that.

But what I missed in this issue is that the stereotyping of Republicans is just as toxic and poison to the outcomes of the most vulnerable communities in this nation. That’s the issue. When Speaker Pelosi says one of the most heinous things I can imagine: that the Republicans are actually trying to cover up murder, the murder of George Floyd with our legislation, that’s not politics. That’s not a game to win. That’s you lose. You will sooner or later lose. But immediately every kid around the nation that heard that nonsense lost that moment.

You can read a full transcript of his speech here.

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