WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republicans said on Tuesday they were working on their own legislation to address police reform and racial injustice as the Democratic-led House of Representatives moved toward a vote this month on its sweeping reform bill.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters following the Senate Republicans weekly policy lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 9, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Senator Tim Scott, the party’s only black member in the upper house of Congress, would lead the effort and it was important the Senate act.
“We’re still wrestling with America’s original sin. We try to get better, but every now and then it’s perfectly clear we’re a long way from the finish line,” McConnell told reporters.
Details of the bill have not been released. A two-page draft outline of the legislation, published by CNN, includes the establishment of review boards in which citizens would assist police departments in examining use of force incidents.
The bill would also require training for officers on policies that impose a duty on them to intervene when they observe another officer using excessive force, according to the draft.
In addition, the legislation would establish two commissions: one to review the criminal justice system and another to study of the societal conditions affecting black men and boys.
Senator Shelly Capito, one of the group working on the bill, said it was expected to have at least two prongs, one looking at police reforms and another at racial discrimination with proposed improvement in the criminal justice system.
Scott said he hoped to have a bill by Friday.
So far, Capito said, it does not include a federal ban on police use of chokeholds, cited in last month’s killing of George Floyd, whose death has roused worldwide protests against racism. Floyd died as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. The officer has been charged with second-degree murder.
U.S. congressional Democrats unveiled sweeping legislation on Monday to combat police violence and racial injustice.
Separately, the House’s No. 2 Democrat, Representative Steny Hoyer, told reporters on Tuesday he was targeting a House vote on a policing reform bill during the week of June 22.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by David Morgan, Richard Cowan and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Dan Grebler and Lincoln Feast.