After bipartisan negotiations for police reform legislation officially collapsed Wednesday, Republican Senator Tim Scott, who co-spearheaded the talks, slammed his Democratic partners Senator Cory Booker and Representative Karen Bass for surrendering the effort.
“After months of making progress, I am deeply disappointed that Democrats have once again squandered a crucial opportunity to implement meaningful reform to make our neighborhoods safer and mend the tenuous relationship between law enforcement and communities of color,” Scott wrote in a statement obtained by Fox News.
The discussions, initially prompted after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, disintegrated after the Democratic participants decided the ideological divide with the Republicans was too great to bridge. Among the issues that caused conversation to repeatedly stall was qualified immunity, which protects police officers from civil liability for malfeasance on the job. After hitting gridlock on that provision, negotiators ditched it altogether and tried to advance a more limited bill.
“After months of exhausting every possible pathway to a bipartisan deal, it remains out of reach right now, even after working collaboratively with and securing the support of policing groups,” Booker said outside Capitol Hill Wednesday. “Unfortunately, even with this law enforcement support and further compromises we offered, there was still too wide a gulf with our negotiating partners and we faced significant obstacles to securing a bipartisan deal.”
From Scott’s perspective, however, Booker and Bass abandoned the cause for police reform when the country needed it most. “Crime will continue to increase while safety decreases, and more officers are going to walk away from the force because my negotiating partners walked away from the table,” he lamented.
Despite the failed legislative initiative, Bass and Booker suggested that the Democrats could pursue other avenues that don’t necessarily involve Republican cooperation to enact police reform, such as though the executive.
“The time has come to explore all other options to achieve meaningful and common sense police reform,” Booker said.
Bass asked the Biden administration to intervene with the executive authority she believes it has to codify police reform since the parties could not arrive at an agreement.
“With our counterparts unwilling to come to a compromise, we have no other option than to explore further avenues to stop police brutality in this country,” she said. “I now call on President Biden and the White House to use the full extent of their constitutionally-mandated power to bring about meaningful police reform.”
“Whether that’s an executive order, whether that’s issuing instructions, whatever they can do, we need the administration to act now, because we don’t have any particular faith or hope that we will be able to get reforms passed,” she said.
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