tv U.S. Senate K U.S. Senate CSPAN June 25, 2020 9:31am-9:42am EDT
struggles to recognize their humanity, unquote. so said john king. >> please take conversations off of the senate floor. >> mr. president, i'm almost done. i thank you for that. mr. president, as dr. martin luther king and dr. john king, former secretary of education and others have told us, we have to make sure that this is a moment we can act with justice as the hymn tells us. all of us, no matter where we're from, no matter what party we're in. all of us are called to act with justice. so let us not fail to act with justice in this moral moment. let us embrace this moment, pass the justice and policing act or something very close to that, and bring the warm light of justice to millions of
americans, especially black americans. i yield the floor. >> madam president, i hope today's events in the senate will not soon be forgotten by the american people. over the last few months, it is an understatement to say that our country has experienced unprecedented physical, financial, and social turbulence from the pandemic to the economic challenges that came on its heels to the widespread protests against racial injustice, the needs of our country should have transcended politics, but unfortunately, that does not seem the case today, you know, we had been on a pretty good run, republicans and democrats to put aside our differences to pass bold and transformative legislation to support our nation's fight against covid as
well as ease the ensuing financial fallout and i'd hoped that that trend would continue as we worked together for the injustices that persist in our society, beginning with police reforms. as we all know by now, thanks to our friend, senator tim scott and others who worked with him, we introduced the justice act to enact real and lasting reform so we can begin to restore the broken trust between minority communities and our law enforcement agencies. this package of bills stress some of the most pressing changes that americans have been calling for, ending choke holds, better training for police officers, accountability for body cameras, and more diverse police forces and the list goes on and on. we know it wasn't the only bill that's been introduced in the
senate. our democratic colleagues addressed many of the same issues, while there are some important instances between the two, what to me is more important is that there was a lot in common, a lot of overlap between those two bills. that should have in a normal time when people were logical and reasonable, that should put us on a strong footing to begin debating the ultimate product, which is what our democratic colleagues actually asked us to do. a couple of weeks ago, the democratic leader came to the floor and urged the majority leader to bring police reform bills to the floor to be debated and voted on before july the 4th. and when senator mcconnell did exactly that, what did they do?
well, as soon as they were told that they would actually have a chance to vote on a police reform bill, they changed their tune, a 180 degree change. it kind of remind me a little bit of last year's debacle over the green new deal. after this resolution was introduced a number of senate democrats rushed to endorse it, but different the opportunity to vote on the resolution, they were praising what happened. well, not a single one of those individuals on the other side of the aisle voted for it, not one. what kind of games are they playing here? senator markey who introduced that resolution here in the senate even accused the majority leader, who scheduled a vote on a bill he was the lead sponsor for, he called it
sabotage. well, history seems to be repeating itself and not, not in a good way. our friends across the aisle, who have been asking to debate and vote on a police reform bill this morning had that opportunity, but once again, they pulled a 180. now, let me be clear on what we were voting on this morning. this is not a vote to finally pass the justice act as-is without any changes or amendments. this is simply a vote to begin debating the bill. you can't finish a bill, you can't actually vote on legislation if you're unwilling to start. and that's exactly what happened this morning. while knowing that republicans and democrats did have some differences, even though there's a lot in common, leader mcconnell provided for the opportunity to have that debate right here on the senate floor. we could have had that debate
in front of the american people. i think that might have helped. number one, as senator scott likes to say, send a signal that we actually are listening. we hear you, we see you, and we are responding to you. no back room negotiations like apparently what the, our democratic colleagues want, rather, an open and honest debate right here in full view of the american people. but our democratic colleagues refuse to participate in the process and have blocked us from even considering police reform legislation. this my way or the highway legislative strategy we've come to expect from our colleagues is absolutely shameful and it's counterproductive. i remember talking to rodney floyd, george floyd's brother
shortly before his funeral. he told me, he said, senator, we're from texas and what we want for george is texas sized justice. and i said, rodney, i'm going to do my very best to deliver, but unfortunately, even though there were many of our democratic colleagues who decried the cruel and tragic death of george floyd, when it came time to step up and actually do something about it, they absolutely refused. well, let me just go over quickly what the bill would have done as proposed subject to amendments and votes, there had been multiple opportunities to stop the bill if it wasn't heading in the direction they liked about you first of all, this would have made lynching a federal crime. you know, that provision in the bill was actually authored by senators harris and booker, but
believe it or not, they filibustered and blocked their own bill. well, the justice act would have ended choke holds and prevented this dangerous and outdated tactic from being used in police departments across the country. what did our democratic colleagues do? well, they blocked it. this legislation would have helped local police departments improve minority hiring so the departments would look more like the communities they serve. our democratic colleagues blocked that, too. this bill would have strengthened the use and accountability for body cameras, improved access to deescalation and duty to intervene training and establish two commissions to give us an about thor understanding of the challenges that need to be addressed in the long run. what did our democratic colleagues do? well, they blocked each and every one of these things. without even taking the time to
debate. and frankly, it is insulting to the memory of people like mr. floyd and others for whom so much empathy and sympathy and concern was expressed that when the time comes to actually do something, they come to this empty handed. well, for weeks, we've watched people of all races and cultures and backgrounds marching and demanding action. they want to see greater transparency and accountability. they want better training and education for our police officers, and they want to know that in the end of the day, the color of your skin won't determine the nature and outcome of an interaction with a police officer. well, i agree with each of those points and until this morning, i believed every member of the united states state did as well. but the actions we've seen this
morning, blocking this legislation, stopping us from even debating the bill, offering amendments, trying to make it better, well, i guess that was giving our colleagues credit which they clearly do not deserve. the problems that led to the death of george floyd, breonna taylor, and other black americans have not gone away, but our democratic colleagues have proven they're more interested in politics than solutions. let the record reflect that this morning, the senate had the opportunity to take the first step toward passing reforms that would begin to heal the divisions and distrust between law enforcement and the communities they serve and our democratic colleagues, unequivocally and shamelessly stood in the way.