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Senate Democrats block Republican police reform bill

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talk at a news conference following the Democrats weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol June 23, 2020 in Washington, DC.

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Senate Democrats blocked a Republican police reform bill from advancing Wednesday as they call for bipartisan talks on a plan to overhaul law enforcement during a national outcry against brutality and racism.  

The legislation, led by GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, did not garner the 60 votes needed to move forward to debate as voting continued. As Democrats argued the measure did not go far enough to root out failings in policing, Republicans contended they should vote to move ahead with it so they could formally propose amendments. 

“If you don’t think we’re right, make it better. Don’t walk way,” Scott, one of three Black senators, said before the vote. “Vote for the motion to proceed so that we have an opportunity to deal with this very real threat to the America that is civil, that is balanced.”

Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, listens during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, June 17, 2020.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The impasse Wednesday leaves Congress no closer to passing any police reform legislation during the biggest public push for change in decades. During weeks of protests after police killed George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, in Minneapolis last month, certain cities and states have taken initial steps to reform departments. 

But the divided Congress — though limited in the change it can bring at the local level — has not yet passed a bill to respond to the crisis. 

Speaking earlier Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said it is “not realistic” to try to fix the Republican bill’s problems through amendments. He called for bipartisan talks to draft a police reform bill that would have to make its way through the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

“After this bill goes down, there should be bipartisan discussions with the object of coming together around a constructive starting point for police reform. … And I have no doubt that we could come up with a bill that’s ready for the floor in a few weeks,” the New York Democrat said. 

This story is developing. Please check back for updates. 

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