Making the rounds as a part of the weekend news programs, Republican Sen. Tim Scott weighed in on the failure to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act on Face of the Nation Saturday. During the interview, Scott claimed policing reform fell apart because of areas of the proposed bill that “reduced funding” for policing.
Host Margaret Brennan seemed either unwilling or not informed enough to challenge Scott on his statement of facts. Subsequently, CBS News ran with a headline claiming Democrats want to “defund police.”
If only Democrats were as radical as both CBS and Scott claim. But the truth is the mainstream of the Democratic party has spent months trying to distance itself from the movement demand of defunding police.
As political analyst Dr. Jason Nichols pointed out Sunday morning, the bill conditions funding on compliance with reforms.
“This is absurd,” tweeted Nichols referring to Scott. “So, he wants to improve policing but with no consequences for noncompliance? This is a joke. Tim Scott is who he is and was never negotiating in good faith. Tying funding to compliance is not defunding anyone.”
Creating a choice point for state and local law enforcement to adhere to requirements is common in federal legislation. The federal government can encourage and influence action, but it cannot direct state and local compliance. Leveraging federal purse strings to ensure state and local compliance is not the same as removing funding; it’s an accountability measure.
Contrary to Scott’s claim of removing funding across the legislation, there are new opportunities for innovation grants, seemingly increasing funding opportunities for public safety programs. The grants directly support “community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help communities reimagine and develop concrete, just and equitable public safety approaches. These local commissions would operate similar to President Obama‘s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.”
Weighing, the NACCP Legal Defense Fund reshared its press release addressing the specific issues with Scott and the failure of policing legislation to move forward.
Earlier reports indicate ending qualified immunity for officers was a major sticking point for Scott and Republicans.
Rep. Karen Bass and Sen. Cory Booker both issued statements last week pointing to the support of even police unions for the compromise legislation noting that it was Congressional Republicans who refused to budge. Even police unions, who are notoriously anti-reform, could come to the table on national standards.
“Unfortunately, even with this law enforcement support and further compromises we offered, there was still too wide a gulf with our negotiating partners, and we faced significant obstacles to securing a bipartisan deal,” Booker said in a statement.
Joining Jonathan Capehart Sunday morning, Bass corrected the record noting the House passed the bill twice without issue. She also highlighted Booker’s effort to negotiate with the Fraternal Order of Police to get them on board with the bill as well.
“Senator Scott knows that is a talking point that is used,” Bass told Capehart. “And the sad thing about the state of our politics in the country right now is one does not have to tell the truth; one can just make a statement true or false.”