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Sen. Scott unveils police reform bill: U.S. 'not racist country,' but racism exists 'in' the nation

Sen. Graham to Democrats: 'You had 8 years under President Obama' to pass police reform.

Published: June 17, 2020 10:58am

Updated: June 17, 2020 4:29pm

When rolling out the GOP's police reform bill, Sen. Tim Scott said Wednesday the U.S. is "not a racist country," but there's racism in the nation in areas like policing that must be addressed.

"I don't know how to tell people the nation is not racist. I'll try again. We're not a racist country. We deal with racism because there's racism in this country. They are both true; not mutually exclusive," Scott, the Senate's only African-American Republican, said during a press conference.

"So I don't worry about the definitions people want to use," he also said. "It's good for headlines, but it's really bad for policy. We're going to focus on getting something done." 

Scott's bill, titled the Justice Act, would withhold grants to police departments that do not ban chokeholds, increase funding for body cameras, characterize lynching as a federal crime and report cases of police officers using excessive force that causes death or "serious injury" to an FBI database. 

Scott, a South Carolina Republican, called on the Senate to come together to pass police reform like it did on the coronavirus stimulus bill, the CARES Act, which passed 96-0.

"If we don’t have the votes on a motion to proceed, that means that politics is more important than restoring the confidence of communities of color in the institutions of authority," Scott said. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham slammed Democrats who have said lawmakers have "talked too much" about police reform and that they "don't need to listen anymore" at this time.

"Where were you for the 8 years of the Obama administration? I'm getting a little tired of being lectured to by my Democratic colleagues that all this is Trump's fault. You had 8 years under President Obama,” the South Carolina Republican said at the press conference. "The Justice in Policing Act — none of it was taken up virtually. So let's knock that off. You're making no points with me trying to suggest that we're bad and ya'll are not when it comes to this issue. You had 8 years — no attempts to ban chokeholds."


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