Sen. Tim Scott has accused President Biden of using key points from Scott’s failed 2020 police reform bill in Biden’s own law enforcement executive order enacted Wednesday.
“After the radical ‘defund the police’ movement helped create the current crime wave, President Biden is pursuing a partisan approach to many of the exact same policy solutions I proposed in the JUSTICE Act just two year[s] ago,” Scott (R-SC) said in a statement released shortly after Biden signed his order.
“The fact is Democrats used a filibuster they call racist to block my reforms that they’re now embracing,” added Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate.
“While my proposal added funding to help local law enforcement comply with higher standards, the Democrats’ proposal sets departments up for failure by issuing unfunded federal mandates. Making it harder for police to do their jobs to the best of their ability should be a nonstarter, yet that’s exactly what the Biden plan does,” the lawmaker said, before concluding: “I’m disappointed that the president who campaigned on unity has once again fallen into the trap of divisive politics.”
Scott and other Republican senators introduced the JUSTICE Act in June 2020, following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
“The murder of George Floyd and its aftermath made clear from sea to shining sea that action must be taken to rebuild lost trust between communities of color and law enforcement, Scott said in a statement at the time.
“The JUSTICE Act takes smart, commonsense steps to address these issues, from ending the use of chokeholds and increasing the use of body worn cameras, to providing more resources for police departments to better train officers and make stronger hiring decisions,” he went on.
Democrats, who were then in the Senate minority, used the filibuster to block the legislation from getting the needed 60 votes to proceed to debate.
Biden signed his executive order on the second anniversary of Floyd’s death. The measure seeks to incentivize local authorities to restrict chokeholds through federal funding conditions. The order also creates a national registry of police officers and federal agents fired for misconduct and restricts the transfer of certain military equipment to local police.
Scott’s office said the JUSTICE Act would have covered many of the provisions in Biden’s order.
Scott’s bill would have required local police to maintain a system for sharing police disciplinary records, increased penalties for all law enforcement officers who intentionally submit a false police report in connection with the use of deadly force, and incentivized the use of body-worn for local law enforcement, while providing penalties for non-compliance.
It would have also encouraged the banning of chokeholds, required the Justice Department to develop training standards or alternatives to use of force, provided grants for improved recruitment and hiring practices, and tracked use of force or serious bodily injury incident data.