Washington, D.C — Today, the Senate voted against advancing S. 3985, or the Just and Unifying Solutions To Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act. This legislation, introduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), fails to set a new foundation on policing, but especially fails to include any meaningful accountability measures for either law enforcement officers or police departments. As such, the JUSTICE Act cannot be considered a police reform bill, as it fails to address the history of systemic racism rooted in America’s policing or to shrink the huge footprint police have in the country.
Neera Tanden, CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, issued the following statement after the voting:
Today’s vote is an indictment on a bill that fails to take any meaningful steps to reform policing. The so-called JUSTICE Act is not a police reform bill, but rather a collection of excuses to avoid reforming the police. The fact that President Donald Trump—who has denounced all real reform and turned the military on peaceful protesters—has applauded this legislation is all lawmakers need to know. As the House prepares to take concrete steps towards meaningful reform, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other Senate Democrats were right to reject this half-measure and demand real bipartisan negotiations.
If the Senate is serious about police reform, it should turn its attention to the Justice in Policing Act, sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). That bill, which the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on tomorrow, delivers on the accountability measures that the American people strongly support. The JUSTICE Act excludes or doesn’t meaningfully address the policies that Americans across all party lines strongly support, including banning the use of chokeholds in all circumstances as well as no-knock warrants, ending qualified immunity for police officers, and ending racial profiling. Americans broadly support commonsense police accountability measures that hold officers accountable for recklessly using excessive force and check law enforcement agencies for patterns and practices of unconstitutional policing. Today’s impasse does not dim the urgent need for police reform, but it is a wake-up call for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the rest of the Senate majority to act meaningfully on police accountability.
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