Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a Republican-drafted bill aimed at overhauling the nation’s policing practices—spelling a potential death knell to efforts at revisions at the federal level in an election year.
In a 55-to-45 vote, the legislation written primarily by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) failed to advance in the Senate, where it needed 60 votes to proceed. Most Democratic senators said the bill fell far short of what was needed to meaningfully change policing tactics and was beyond the point of salvageable, the Washington Post reports.
The Senate GOP plan incorporates a number of Democratic proposals, such as legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime and a national policing commission to undertake a comprehensive review of the U.S. criminal justice system.
It also withholds federal grants to state and local law enforcement agencies that do not proactively bar the practice of chokeholds. It also calls on states and localities to report to the Justice Department when no-knock warrants are used, and it would punish those that do not do so, by withholding federal funding.
On one major point of dissension between the parties, the Republican bill leaves intact the “qualified immunity” standard that Democrats want to erode, to make it easier for law enforcement officials to be sued for misconduct.
The Democrat bill has no chance in the Senate, and the Trump administration issued a formal veto threat Wednesday.