tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN June 24, 2020 9:59am-2:00pm EDT
the last four years opportunity zones, permanent funding for historically black colleges and universities, the first step act. let's build on this record, madam president. let's debate and amend as we see fit and then let us pass the justice act and send it to the conference committee that speaker pelosi talks about and then send a bill to the president of the united states and have it signed into law and help our country move ahead. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. >> the senate today will vote on two issues to confirm cory wilson to be a judge for the fifth circuit court of appeals and whether to limit debate and advance senator tim scott's police reform bill called the justice act. it will take 60aye votes to
advance the measure both for 11:30 a.m. eastern. now live to the senate floor here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. black, will open the senate with prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal father, our souls long for you, for we find strength and joy in your presence. guide our lawmakers to put their trust in you,
seeking in every undertakin to know and do your will. when they go through difficulties, may they remember that, with your help, they can accomplish the seemingly impossible. give them a faith that will trust you even when the darkness is blacker than a thousand midnights. may they always find strength in your providential leading. we pray in your strong name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in the pledge of
the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: 30 seconds for morning business, please. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: the senate will soon cross the milestone of 200 judicial confirmations since president trump came to the presidency in 2017. these have been nominees in justice scalia just as the president promised nearly four years ago. they will strictly interpret the constitution and federal statutes. their decisions will be driven by what the law actually says, not their own personal policy preferences. this landmark achievement is the
mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: in a few hours the senate will confirm judge cory t. wilson to join the u.s. court of appeals for the fifth circuit. yet again president trump has sent up an outstanding nominee for this important vacancy. judge wilson holds degrees from the university of mississippi and yale law school. he's held a prestigious clerkship, found success in private practice, and spent years in public service as a lawyer and a judge. the american bar association rates mr. wilson well qualified. once we confirm judge wilson today, the senate will have confirmed 200, 200 of president trump's nominees to lifetime appointments on the federal bench. and following number 200, when
we depart this chamber today, there will not be a single circuit court vacancy anywhere in the nation for the first time in at least 40 years. not be a single circuit court vacancy anywhere in the nation for the first time in at least 40 years. as i've said many times, madam president, our work with the administration's to renew our federal courts is not a partisan or political victory. it's a victory for the rule of law and for the constitution itself. if judges applying the law and the constitution as they're written strikes any of our colleagues as a threat to their political agenda, then the problem, i would argue, is with their agenda. now on another matter, today was supposed to bring progress for an issue that is weighing heavily on the minds of americans. in the wake of the killings of
breonna taylor and george floyd following weeks of passionate protests from coast to coast, the senate was supposed to officially take up police reform on the floor today. instead our democratic colleagues are poised to turn this routine step into a partisan impasse. frankly, to most americans, the situation would sound like a satire of what goes on in the senate, a heated argument over whether to invoke cloture on a motion to proceed to a proposal, a heated argument over whether to invoke cloture on a motion to proceed to a proposal. we're literally arguing about whether to stop arguing about whether to start arguing about something else. i can stand here for an hour and extol the virtues of senator tim
scott's justice act. his legislation has already earned 48 cosponsors because it's a straightforward plan based on facts, based on data, and lived experience. it focuses on improving accountability and restoring trust. testimony addresses key issues like choke holds and no-knock warrants. it expands reporting and transparency and hiring and training or de-escalation. so i'm proud to stand with this legislation, but the reality, madam president, is nobody thought the first offer from the republican side was going to be the final product that traveled out of the senate. what's supposed to happen in this body is that we vote or agree to get on to a bill and then we discuss, debate, and amend it until at least 60 senators are satisfied or it goes nowhere. it goes nowhere at the end until
60 senators are satisfied. so what are they giving up? nothing. they don't want an outcome. the vote will take -- the vote we'll take in a few hours is just the first step. we aren't passing a bill. we aren't making policy decisions. it's just a procedural vote to say police reform is a subject the senate will tackle next. that's all it says. that police reform is the subject the senate will tackle next. but alas our democratic colleagues have suddenly begun to signal they're not willing to even begin the discussion on police reform. they're threatening to block the subject from even reaching the senate floor. yesterday in a letter to me on the floor, the dkic leader and the junior senator from new jersey and california put forward an argument that was almost nonsensical.
first, they explained a number of policy differences they have with senator scott's proposal. no problem there. the senate has a handy tool for settling such differences. it's called legislating. we take up bills. we debate them. we consider amendments from both sides and only if and when 60 senators are satisfied can we even vote on passage. at this time senate democrats say the legislative process should not happen. this time the democratic leader is saying he will not let the senate take up the subject of police reform at all, at all unless i prenegotiate with him in private and rewrite our starting point until he is satisfied. this last-minute ultimatum is particularly ironic given the
weeks of rhetoric from leading democrats about how very urgent, how very urgent it was that congress address police reform and racial justice. for weeks democratic leader has blustered that the senate simply had to address this issue before july 4. well, that's what the vote this morning is about. last week speaker pelosi said i hope there's a compromise to be reached in the congress because, quote, how many more people have to die from police brutality? so as recently as last week, leading democrats called it a life-or-death issue for the senate to take up this subject this month. well, here we are. here we are. we're ready to address it. but now in the last 48 hours, this bizarre, new ultimatum.
now they don't want to take up the issue. they don't want a debate. they don't want amendments. they'll filibuster police reform from even reaching the floor of the senate unless the majority gets the minority to rewrite the bill behind closed doors in advance. let me say that again. they'll filibuster police reform from even reaching the floor unless the majority let's the minority rewrite the bill behind closed doors in advance. yesterday the speaker of the house told cbs news that because senate republicans do support senator tim scott's reform bill, we are all, quote -- listen to this, listen to this jaw-dropping comment -- trying to get away with murder, the murder of george floyd?
that's the speaker of the house? accusing senate republicans of trying to get away with murder? you're beginning to see how this game works. two weeks ago it was implied the senate would have blood on our hands if we didn't take up police reform. now democrats say senator scott and 48 other senators have blood on our hands because we are trying to take up police reform. what fascinating times we live in, madam president. armies of elites and twitter mobs stand ready to pounce on any speech they deem problematic and yet unhinged comments like these get a complete free pass. complete free pass. when our country needs unity,
they're trying to keep us apart. when our nation needs bipartisan solutions, they're staging partisan theater. this is political nonsense elevated to -- in a body that has amendments and substitute amendments, it is nonsense to say a police reform bill cannot be the starting point for a police reform bill. it is nonsense for democrats to say that because they want to change senator scott's bill, they're getting to block the senate from taking it up and amending it. if they're confident in their positions, they should embrace the amendment process. and if they aren't confident, their views will persuade others that just underscores why they don't get to insert these views
in advance, in advance behind closed doors. no final legislation can pass without 60 votes. if democrats do not like the final product, it won't pass. the only way there is any doubts that democrats would come to the table is they would rather preserve this urgent subject as a live campaign issue than pass a bipartisan answer. the majority has done everything we can to proceed to this issue in good faith. i have fast-tracked this issue to the floor this month, as our democratic colleagues said they wanted, until 48 hours ago. i have expressed my support for a robust amendment process, as our democratic colleagues said they wanted, until 48 hours ago.
so make no mistake about it, senate republicans are ready to make a law. we're ready to discuss and amend our way to a bipartisan product. pass it and take it to conference with the house. the american people deserve an outcome. we cannot get an outcome if democrats will not even let us begin. not even let us begin. i hope our colleagues reconsider and let the senate consider police reform later today. if they do not, the next time another appalling incident makes our nation sick to its stomach with grief and anger yet again, senate democrats can explain to the nation why they made sure
the senate did nothing. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, cory t. wilson of mississippi to be united states circuit judge for the fifth circuit. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 11:30 a.m. will be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: now, madam president, the names of george floyd and breonna taylor, ahmaud arbery, continue to ring in the nation's ears, a searing reminder of the desperate need to reform policing and truly
address racial justice -- racial injustice in america. their memory is a national call to action. democrats answered that call by proposing a broad, strong, comprehensive police reform bill that would bring deep and lasting change to police departments across america. house democrats will pass that bill, the justice in policing act, as early as tomorrow. however, here in the senate, the republican majority proposed the legislative equivalent of a fig leaf, something that provides a little cover but no real change. and in less than an hour, leader mcconnell will ask the senate to proceed to the so-called policing reform bill. we've all gone over the bill's deficiencies over and over again. there are no good answers. some on the other side have said the bills are similar. they are like night and day.
in response to the brutal killing of george floyd, his windpipe crushed by a police officer, my republican friends drafted a bill that does not even fully ban the type of brutal tactics that led to his death. in response to the death of breonna taylor, killed by police executing a no-knock warrant, my republican friends have drafted a bill that doesn't even ban that type of tactic. what weak tea. for leader mcconnell to come on the floor with this bill and say he is solving the problem, no one believes that. except maybe a few ideologues who really don't want to solve the problem to begin with. the ban -- the bill doesn't ban choke holds, it doesn't ban no-knock warrants, it does nothing to stop racial profiling, the militarization of police or reform use of force standards and qualified immunity. all the things that need to be done, almost none of which are in this bill.
the last piece is particularly surprising. so much of the anger in the country right now is directed at the lack of accountability for police officers who violate americans' rights. as far as i can tell, the republican bill does not even attempt one significant reform, not one to bring more accountability to police officers who are guilty of misconduct. if you present a bill, as republicans have here in the senate, that does nothing on accountability and say they are solving or dealing with the problem in even close to an adequate way, they are sadly mistaken. no one, no one believes that. now, i could spend more time in describing what the republican bill doesn't do than what it does do. the harsh fact of the matter is the bill is so deeply, fundamentally and irrevocably flawed, it cannot serve as a useful starting point for meaningful reform. but don't ask me.
don't ask the democrats here. ask the leading civil rights organizations who have declared their strong opposition not only to this bill but have urged us not to move forward because they know this bill is a sham which will lead to no reform whatsoever. yesterday, 138 civil rights groups sent an open letter to senators demanding of the vote -- that we vote no on moving to proceed today. i have the letter here. i ask unanimous consent that the full letter be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. i want to ask the american people, i want to ask republican senators who is a better guardian of the civil rights of african americans when it comes to police reform. the naacp or mitch mcconnell? if this bill were such a good path to reform, why wouldn't civil rights organizations from one end of america to another
say go forward, maybe we'll get something done? because they know the bill is a ruse and nothing will get done and that's why it's designed, that's the way its designed. who do you believe when it comes to civil rights and police accountability, mitch mcconnell or the lawyer for the families of floyd taylor or -- george floyd and breonna taylor. who do you believe, the lawyer of the floyd and taylor families or mitch mcconnell who we have never heard speak on this issue on the floor until the last few weeks? these groups have been speaking about it for decades. the idea, the idea that this bill is a step forward when it will lead to nowhere, it will not be -- mitch mcconnell keeps saying you can cut the bill off when you don't get your
60 votes. what kind of solution is that? when it's a junkie bill, when it's a bill that -- a junky bill, when it's a bill that doesn't go far enough at all, why don't we put a good bill on the floor that can pass? let me read what the leadership council on civil rights said. they have had a hand in drafting every meaningful piece of legislation passed in congress in the last few years. this bill, the justice bill, the republican bill is an inadequate response to the decades of pain, hardship, and devastation that black people have and continue to endure as a result of systematic racism and lax policies that fail to hold police accountable for misconduct. this bill, the civil rights conference continues, falls woefully short of the comprehensive reform needed to address the current policing
policies, the current policing crisis, and achieve meaningful reform. listen to this sentence from 136 civil rights organizations about this bill that leader mcconnell has put on the floor. it is deeply problematic to meet this moment with a menial incremental approach that offers more funding to police and few policies to effectively address the constant loss of black lives at the hands of the police. leader mcconnell, here's what the civil rights organizations say about your bill. they rip off any cloaking about what this bill really does and what it is. i want to read it again. specifically to our republican leader who thinks this is a good bill and a great attempt to go forward. quote, it is deeply problematic
to meet this moment with a menial incremental approach that offers more funding to police and few policies to effectively address the constant loss of black lives at the hands of police. who do you believe, america? civil rights conference or mitch mcconnell? who do you believe, america? naacp or the republican caucus? who do you believe, america? the lawyer for the taylor and floyd families or donald trump who has these members quaking if their boots that they do something that he doesn't like? that's one of the other reasons we're in such a pickle here. they are so afraid of donald trump, who's willing to say overtly racist statements, like kung flu several times yesterday, that they can't even bring themselves to bring a bill on the floor that has a modicum
of respect from the civil rights community. when you call it menial, you are not respecting a bill. the naacp legal defense fund, founded by the great justice thurgood marshall, here's what it said. they have been fighting for these things for 80 years, not eight days. it cannot support legislation that does not embody a strong accountability framework for police officers and law enforcement who engage in misconduct. here's what benefiting -- benjamin crump, the lawyer said -- the legislation is in direct contrast to the demands of the people who have been protesting. the black community is tired of lip service and shocked that the republican proposal can even be thought of legislation. the lawyer for the taylor and floyd families. leader mcconnell has invoked their names. that's the right thing to do.
but then deviates totally from what their lawyer says needs to be done to deal with these kinds of deaths. again, benjamin crump, lawyer for floyd and taylor families, quote, the black community is tired of the lip service and shock that the republican proposal can even be thought of as legislation. so don't get on your sanctimonious horse, leader mcconnell. you have none of the civil rights community behind you. the most preeminent civil rights groups in our nation's history are speaking. the lawyer representing the families of americans who have loved their loved ones at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve are speaking. they have one simple, urgent goal, and it is nothing to do with politics. leader mcconnell accuses what we're doing as being filled with politics? does leader mcconnell accuse all 138 civil rights
organizations of wanting to do this for politics? no, no, no. i think the shoe is on the other foot. i think the politics here is that leader mcconnell wants to show he's doing something and get nothing done. he may be afraid of president trump. he may be afraid of some police organizations. i don't know what it is. here's what they say in their letter. we, therefore, urge you, the senators, to oppose the justice act and vote no on the motion to proceed. i dare the leader to come out here and say they're playing politics. come right out and say it's false. and we, the democrats, are aligned with what they believe. now, this morning we heard more predictable histrionics from the republican leader.
outrageous hypocrisy. leader mcconnell should spare us the lectures about how laws get made. he knows how. it's through bipartisanship. the leader talks about bipartisanship and introduces a totally partisan bill, and introduces a process where democrats have had no input. that's partisanship. want to be bipartisan, leader mcconnell? sit down, assemble a group -- some from your side, maybe senator scott, who's greatly respected, some from our side, maybe senators booker and harris, who are greatly respected, a few others, and let them sit down and come up with a proposal. doesn't have to be behind closed doors. and the leader is worried about closed doors? there's something called the judiciary committee. it doesn't meet in secret. why wasn't this bill referred there, where there would be at least something of a bipartisan process? who is he i think kidding?
who is -- who is he kidding? who is he kidding? you don't want closed doors, leader mcconnell? send it to the judiciary committee. something as important as this should have gone through there to begin with. the republicans came here, dropped the bill on the floor and said, take it or leave it. even if we were to get on the bill, there is no conceivable way to rectify all of its many problems. it's not realistic we can fix this bill, even with a series of amendments, because they will require 60 votes, and we won't get 60 on any of them because if they believed in these ideas, as senator harris said, they would have put them in the bill to begin with. they didn't. the republican majority has given the senate a bad bill and no credible way to sufficiently improve it. senator mcconnell cleverly, maybe cynically, design add legislative cul-de-sac, from which no bill could eemergency.
whether the bill -- could emerge. while the bill lacks 60 votes now or 60 votes in a few days, we know they'll claim we're the opponents of progress, as he did this morning. please. does anyone believe that democrats are the obstacles to reforming our police departments? does anyone believe that? we announced a much bolder, stronger, better, more effective bill through weeks ago, and unlike the republican legislation, the justice in policing act will actually pass a chamber of congress. and when it passes the house, the nation is going to say to leader mcconnell, get something moving in the senate. and leader mcconnell knows and everyone in this body knows, you have to do that in a bipartisan way. that's how the senate has always worked and still does. senate republicans and their president who proclaim we should cherish the memory of confederate traitors who fought to the preserve slavery, who
gleefully called the coronavirus kung flu, expect you to believe that they're the champions of police reform? that's what senate republicans want america to believe. america ain't buying it. the same republican majority that has demonstrated a complete lack of urgency to address the public health and economic crises that are devastating black america, the same republican majority that has refused time and time again to call out president trump's bigotry and intolerance, the same republican majority that has run a conveyor belt of anti-civil rights, vote-suppressing judicial nominees, including one today -- today, the very same day we vote on policing reform want you to believe that haul of a sudden they want to -- that all of a sudden they want to get something done? as they say in brooklyn, forget
about it. so when you hear president trump and senator mcconnell trying to cast blame for lack of progress on police reform, i have three words for you -- consider the source. look at their history. look at what they've done. look at just said, leader mcconnell proudly brags he's putting someone on the fifth circuit who has opposed voting rights for his whole career. those who wants to move things forward? i doubt it. here's the truth. senator mcconnell has been around a long time and knows how to produce a workable outcome in the senate, if he really wants to. we have done it before on criminal justice reform, annual budgets, on the national defense bill, the lands package we just passed, even on difficult immigration issues -- issues like immigration. the senate can function if the leader allows it.
in 2017, a bipartisan group of senators produce add bill on immigration that garnered two-thirds of this chamber. so what do these bills have in common? bipartisanship. what does this bill have? only partisan support. not a single democrat supports this bill. their bill. so while i certainly feel obligated to point out that -- the contradictions and hypocrisy in the republican leader's statements and history, i am not dismayed by the likely failure of the republican bill today. all is not lost. there is a better path and one we should take once this bill fails to go forward. after this bill goes down, there should be bipartisan discussions with the object of coming
together around a constructive starting point for police reform. leader mcconnell can pick a few of his members as negotiators. i could designate a few from our caucus. they can sit down, talk to one another, and find a bill that we're ready to start debating. we could send that bill to the committee. open process, it is a would be refined. this is an important issue. that, leader mcconnell, is what legislating -- successful legislating will be. and i have no doubt we could come up with a bill that's ready for the bill in a few weeks. we know how to do this. but in the rush to get this issue off their backs, to check some political box and move on, my republican colleagues have forgotten or are simply ignoring everything they know about how the senate works. my hope, my prayer is that after this bill fails today, after leader mcconnell's path
reaches its preordained dead end, one he intended to happen, we can start down the path of bipartisanship, real bipartisanship. not a bill designed, put on the floor by one party. if americans of all ages and colors, all faiths can join together in a righteous chorus calling for change, as they have in big cities and small towns across america, then we in the senate can at least try to come together to deliver. democrats and republicans, working together to solve an age-old problem that is a deep wound in america. these past few weeks have magnified a very old wound in our country, the winding up of that -- the binding up of that wound demands all from us. the protesters in the streets, democrats and republicans.
so let us not -- please, let us not once again retreat to our partisan corners after today's vote. let us instead, appeal instead to the better angels of our nature. reach out to one another, democrats and republicans together, and try to forge a passage forward together. i yield the floor. mr. thune: madam president? the presiding officer: the
majority whip is recognized. mr. thune: madam president, in just a few minutes, we will vote on whether to move forward on senator scott's police reform bill. madam presidents, we are at a turning point in our nation's history, a moment when americans of every background and political per situation are united in a call for change -- persuasion are united in a call for change. we have a chance to give it to them. over the course of the next couple of weeks, we have the chaens to pass legislation -- we have the chance to pass legislation that will permanently reform policing in this country, legislation that will improve training, increase accountability, and give increased security to families who worry that their son or daughter could be the next george floyd or breonna taylor. senator scott's legislation, the justice and unifying solutions to invigorate communities everywhere act, is the product of years, years of serious work.
it is an extensive bill that focuses on a number of areas that call for reform. and, madam president, make no mistake about it, that when the democrats vote today, if they do -- and i hope there are enough of them that will allow this legislation to move forward -- they will be voting to block police reform legislation, because that's what this is. this is a bill put together -- and it's not senator mcconnell's bill. the democratic leader kept attacking senator mcconnell, the mcconnell legislation. this is a tim scott bill crafted with input from others, other senators, with input from communities of color across this country, with input from the law enforcement community, people who care deeply about not just talking about this issue but
actually solving this issue. who care about action, madam president. and so the democrat objection and vote to block this legislation from moving forward will prevent an open debate in front of the entire american public about an issue that has generated a tremendous amount of controversy not only currently but throughout our nation's history. madam president, we cannot change our past. there are parts of it that we're not proud of. we can't change our past, but we can change our future. and that could start today with this vote to get on this bill. and then to have an open process, which the leader has promised that if we can get on this bill, we'll have an amendment process. if there are things in the bill that people think can be improved on either side of the aisle, they'll have the
opportunity to offer amendments to make those improvements. but not even getting on the bill, madam president, we're saying to the american people we don't care about you having a voice in this process or being able to see what your elected leaders are actually doing to resolve this problem in our country, because that's what this would do. it would open it up. it would allow a piece of legislation to be brought to the floor, to move to proceed, to get on it, to open it up, the amendment process, to have a freewheeling, fulsome debate about each and every one of the issues involved in this legislation. they've said there are things about this that it doesn't go far enough, doesn't do this or that. sure, that's true. perhaps it doesn't. but it gets about 55% of the way -- but itest goes about 75% of the way there. if you lookality the contents and the substance of this bill,
it represents a lot of what both sides have been talking b a lot of recommendations that have come forward from people across this country who've been directly impacted. none more so than senator scott. i can tell you senator scott doesn't view this as a messaging exercise. he views this as something that is deeply personal to him. unfortunately, he's experienced the pain of racism, not only as a young boy growing up in the south but as an adult and as united states senator. he wants a solution. we should all want a solution. but that starts by getting on the bill and debating it in the open, in the light of day. democrat leader talks about why can't we go back behind closed doors and negotiate this. well, look, we have a peels of legislation -- piece of legislation that represents 75% of what the democrats say they
want and we can finish the other 25% or maybe we won't get to a hundred percent, nobody usually gets what they want a hundred percent around here but at least the closest thing we can get to a hundred percent simply by having a debate, allowing an open amendment process, and allowing the will of the united states senate to be heard. madam president, that's all that this is about. this isn't about the final bill. this isn't about the final contents. this is about whether or not this body, 100 united states senators, has listened enough to what's going on around this country to say we want to have this debate. we want to get on this bill and we want to have it in public, in the light of day, in front of the american people, not behind closed doors. an open debate, a fulsome debate where amendments can be offered and where the american people can observe and see it.
madam president, that's what this vote today is about. now, the democrats will say that, you know, if they allow us to get on the bill, then they have no control over wasp after that. actually they do. because it's not just a 60-vote threshold to get on the bill. it's a 60-vote threshold to get off the bill. and so if you want to stop this somewhere, anywhere in the process, you have the opportunity to do that. because it will take 60 votes to move it forward and to ultimately pass it. not just to get on it. it takes 60 votes, a super majority here in the united states senate. and i think it's fair to say that historically the way the senate has worked on major pieces of legislation, they end up being because of the 60-vote threshold, they have to be bipartisan. and there hasn't been a time since the pop whrar -- popular
election of senators, at least on the republican side, where we've had more than 55 votes in the united states senate. the democrats have had 60 a few times throughout the history but republicans have never had more than 55. we know it's going to take a bipartisan solution. we know that the democrats' voice matters. and we know that in the end if you're going to get a bipartisan product, you've got to have input from both sides. but that's what this is about. it's about getting on that bill. advance and put forward by an individual, tim scott. it is a tim scott bill again with input from others. it is not a mcconnell bill. it is a tim scott bill. someone who has personally experienced and felt the very frustration, anger that is being voiced by the american people across the country. he wants a solution. he doesn't want a messaging bill. we want a solution.
so, madam president, let me just tell you quickly about a few of the things that are in this bill which i think suggest that it would be really important to get on it, to at least have a debate. one of the most important sections of the bill is the george floyd and walter scott notification act which would correct deficiencies in law enforcement reporting of use of force incidents. right now the f.b.i. national use of force data collection only receives data on about 40% of law enforcement officers, 40%. that needs to change. the only way we can understand the scope of the problems we're facing is to have full and accurate data, a complete data picture that will allow us to pinpoint problems, identify troubled police departments and develop best practices for use of force and de-escalation training. there are many police departments across the nation that are doing an excellent job of policing and are keenly interested in becoming still
better. i recently met with law enforcement leaders back in my home state of south dakota. among other things they have been participating in listening sessions with the community since george floyd's death and are supportive of new measures that will help ensure that every officer is doing his or her job in the best possible way. but while there are a lot, a lot of excellent police departments out there, there are also troubled departments. departments that fail to train their officers properly or that scwoafer look -- overlook officer misbehavior. we need to identify those departments and demand their reform, collecting full and accurate data on use of force incidents will help us do just that. another important section of the justice act focuses on police de-escalation and duty to intervene training. sometimes police end up using force in situations where it could have been avoided simply because they lack the necessary training to de-escalate a situation without the use of force. it may be understandable but
that well meaning but overwhelmed police officers in dangerous circumstances have sometimes resorted to the use of force too quickly but that's not a situation that we can accept. every police officer in this country should be given the kind of training that will ensure the use of force is restricted only to those situations where it is absolutely needed. madam president, another key area of the bill, one that is absolutely essential to getting bad cops off the streets deals with law enforcement records reattention. too often law enforcement officers with problematic records like multiple excessive use of force complaints manage to transfer to new jurisdictions because the hiring police department never sees their full record. that's a problem. bad cops should not be able to find a new home in another jurisdiction. and we can prevent that from happening by ensuring that every police department is able to access the full disciplinary record of any officer it is looking to hire.
the justice act would help make sure that these records are readily available by requiring police departments to keep officer records for at least, at least 30 years. it would also require, require any police department hiring a new officer to obtain a full employment and disciplinary record for that officer from all of his previous departments. madam president, there are a lot of other important measures in the justice act from funding for body cameras to expanding minority hiring to developing best policing practices. with this legislation we have a real chance to improve policing in this country and ensure that every officer is held to the highest standards but our ability to do that, madam president, is going to department on one thing. that's the willingness of democrats to come to the table. it was disheartening to see
democrats dismissing senator scott's bill before it even had been released, especially because, as i said, many of the proposals in the bill are taken directly from earlier bipartisan bills. in the word of course today is they're planning to block the bill without even allowing it to be considered on the floor. madam president, democrats have spent a lot of time talking about police reform. but if they want to actually achieve reform, not just talk about it, they're going to have to decide to move beyond politics. senator scott's bill is a serious, wide ranging bill. it is a commonsense bill. it is a bill that all of us, whatever our party, should be willing to agree on. and as i said, madam president, if democrats have changes that they'd like to make, the leaders made it clear that there will be an opportunity for amendments.
but to refuse, to refuse even to allow debate on this bill suggests that democrats are more interested in attempting to score political points on this issue than in actually doing anything about reform. madam president, i'm hoping that what we're hearing about democrats' plans to block this bill is wrong. i hope, i really sincerely hope that we're going to see democrats, some courageous ones, come to the table and vote to move forward with debate on this legislation. we have a chance to do something important here, historic chance. with the justice act we can permanently improve policing in this country and bring real hope to those who have lost faith in law enforcement. but we're going to have to stand together to get this done. madam president, i urge my colleagues in a few minutes to vote to move forward on the
justice act and to start the process of reform. madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from washington is recognized. ms. cantwell: madam president, i come to the floor to talk about the civil rights of all americans and ask my colleagues to vote for a process today that will lead to laws that will protect those civil rights. unfortunately the motion to proceed to predetermined legislation is just a predetermined outcome for a weak bill. there is no agreement today by the majority leader and the minority leader on a bipartisan bill. everyone around here knows the way to get good bipartisan legislation. it starts with a committee process that is open and public and an amendment process.
you can and we have done things like we did with covid are we get a bipartisan group of members together to discuss legislation and put something before congress. or you could bring up a bipartisan bill on the senate floor. but that's not what's happening. that's not what's happening. what's happening is a predetermined process to get a bill that is not good enough for the american people. voting yes is just an attempt to dictate a weak outcome when what america wants more than anything else is justice. they want justice guaranteed by a strong federal response. leader mcconnell said in talking about the republican efforts, quote, it would encourage smart reforms of law enforcement without steamrolling states and local communities' constitutional powers. end quote.
elsewhere he said democrats want to overreach, quote, federalize all of the issues. end quote. well, madam president, with all due respect to the majority leader, it's called the federal civil rights act for a reason. it wasn't right to deny rosa parks a seat on a bus when she was fighting for her constitutional rights. it wasn't right to deny african americans access to hotels or lunch counters when they were fighting for their civil rights. it wasn't right to use police dogs on black women trying to register to vote in 1964 in mississippi when they were fighting for their voting rights. and i guarantee you it's not good enough and would not been good enough to give them 75%. rosa parks was not looking for 75%. she was looking for someone to uphold her rights. i spoke last night with one of
my constituents stan bear who worked for senator warren magnuson as a staffer who drafted the clause of the 1964 civil rights act. as one of his first jobs on the senate commerce committee. can you imagine coming to the united states senate as a young lawyer and getting a job on the commerce committee and the first thing you have to do is address the accommodations clause of the 1964 civil rights act? i can tell you what he told me. he said advocates then tried to minimize the federal role. that's what we're hearing today, minimize the federal role. where would we be if president kennedy had taken that approach? he fought for equal protection under the law for access to education and to end
discrimination when southern governors wouldn't do so. there is a federal role in protecting the civil liberties of all americans and we should not be abdicating it today with this vote. congress passed the civil rights act of 1871 after the civil war when black americans faced violence from the kkk and white supremacists in southern states. it gave them the right to seek relief in federal court when their constitutional rights were deprived by someone acting in official capacity. it is those same civil rights that we should be upholding today that those rights, making sure that there is not police brutality. and that is what the u.s. department of justice is supposed to do. it is supposed to fight to uphold those rights. but we know we have a problem because president trump and attorney general barr have repeatedly abdicated those
responsibilities, have failed to uphold those civil rights because as a top law enforcement officer in the land, they could be directing and supervising u.s. attorneys and prosecuting these federal crimes as violations of civil rights. i know that that is what president obama did. i know that he worked hard in the civil rights division to oversee pattern and practices and cases of police abuse and entered a number of consent decrees with major cities, including some in my state. yes, the attorney general is supposed to uphold the fourth amendment protections against unreasonable seizure and the civil rights that protect against excessive use of force. but that is not what is happening. under the trump administration, attorney general barr, the u.s. department of justice civil rights division police practice group has been reduced to half. it's not opened a major pattern and practice investigation in
some time, and trump and his administration have been pulling away from this important role. it started with jeff sessions. jeff sessions made it harder to reach consent decrees with cities. so instead of playing the federal role that we're speefd to play, we have an administration that is enabling bad practices to continue by not overseeing them. so yes, there is a federal role. there is a federal role here today. just as there was with voting rights, just as there was with access to federal -- to public places, just as there was with education and fighting discrimination. in fact, i think that is the central question of this debate. are we going to have a strong federal role in protecting the constitutional rights of all americans to prevent excessive police force use.
it's pretty basic. we want to see a law that says that choke holds should be banned. we're not looking for 75%. we're not looking for study and analysis. we are looking to protect the constitutional rights of all americans. so it's no surprise that the naacp has said that this legislation that our colleagues have proposed on the other side of the aisle does not meet the moment to end racial injustice. i ask my colleagues when are we going to? maybe the information age has laid bare for us and all our eyes to see that this problem has to be resolved. are we going to uphold the fourth amendment rights against unreasonable seizure and the civil rights against protecting against excessive use of force by police or are we going to uphold the rights of all americans or just some americans?
i would say to my colleagues if we are not upholding all the americans' rights, then we aren't really upholding america's civil rights. we have to ask ourselves what moment are we living in when somebody thinks 75% is enough and it's a study and analysis when we're talking about protecting the rights of all americans. mr. president, my mom has been ill, so i have been spending a lot of time with her talking about family history, talking about this moment in our history, and she told me a story of how she was a young girl. she was born in 1932, so you can imagine the era that she lived through. but she told me when her older brother got to go to school, she got to stay home and tried his tricycle so she thought that was
the best. he started kindergarten. she could ride his tricycle up and down the alley. she met an african american woman who game her friend, her first real friend as a young child. she got to know that woman so well that when my grandparents in the neighboring building held the election and saw that people were lining up to vote, white people were allowed to come into the building and be warm. the african american people had to stay outside in the cold and wouldn't be allowed to come into the building to vote. a great discouragement. thank god my grandfather went out and built a bonfire, then left to go to work. but when you look at the history of our country and we still see voter suppression issues today, that's why we have to ask ourselves the fundamental
question. when it comes to the civil liberties of americans, a report 75% is not enough. a clear line ending excessive abuse and declaring choke holds illegal is where we need to be. i ask my colleagues to turn down this measure on a weak predetermined path and give a real bipartisan effort and uphold the civil liberties of americans, because i guarantee you america really is watching. i thank the president and i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. perdue: mr. president, i stand before this body today with a troubled heart, as most of us do, but that's not good enough. we have to kind of put away our own vices, our own prejudices. i'm not talking about racial. i'm talking about political. today we have an opportunity to do something, to start a process . we're too cheap in this body, mr. president. i hear a lot of empty words. i hope not to add to that quantity today.
when i was a kid growing up in the deep south, martin luther king wrote a letter from a jail cell in birmingham to black preachers in that community. he encouraged them to turn away from the violence that had such a potentially devastating impact. but to seek reform peacefully, that in the long term, that was the better approach. my father had me read that letter. i gave a speech a couple years ago, and i quote interested that letter. it meant something to me as a young white man in the deep south. almost 57 years ago, on the other end of the national mall from where we stand today, dr. martin luther king jr., i believe, changed the world. certainly impacted millions of lives. standing before thousands of
people, he shared his dream. he dreamed of a world where justice would prevail over prejudice. he dreamed of an america where everyone would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the depth of their character. since that day in 1963, a lot has changed in our country for the better. unfortunately, dr. king's vision of racial justice, harmony, equality, is yet to be fully realized. that's unacceptable, mr. president. this year, our country has seen devastating tragedies taking place in our communities, but what we see on tv really is the tip of the eyeingberg, as a lot of my friends from those communities tell me. i believe them. we need to make sure that the fundamental issue of fairness is upheld by all law enforcement agencies so everyone gets treated equally, fairly, period. the tragedies we have seen are uncurrently by everybody.
i don't think anybody in america thinks what we have seen is right. those who are responsible need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and we need to put a full stop to it right now. mr. president, that fight starts today, i believe, here in the united states senate. like so many americans, my wife bonnie and i have spent a lot of time reflecting and praying for our country and our friends and our fellow americans in the last many weeks. it's clear to us that we have more work to do to make justice for all become a reality for every american. we are a nation of laws, but those laws have to be enforced fairly and equally. to truly be effective, the police need to have the confidence of the communities they serve, and in many cases today, that's just not the case. that trust and confidence must be earned, however.
clearly, there is much work to do on this front to build up mutual trust. mr. president, i had a conversation with two grandmothers last week. well-educated, successful women of color, in positions of tremendous responsibility. we talked about how their perspective and my perspective differed and how we saw each other in this crisis, but the most telling thing in that conversation was how they told me their number one concern was for their grandsons and how their grandsons would be treated on members -- by members of the police officers in their communities. that's a tragedy, mr. president. we can do something about it. this issue is personal to me. growing up in middle georgia in the 1960's, i have seen the devastation of racism, discrimination, a lack of equality, prejudice. as the son of two public school
teachers, i saw how it weighed on my parents during that time. all they wanted was for every child to be treated equally, regardless of where they came from, what their name was, or the color of their skin. now, understand, i group up in a military town. we had people there from all over the world. so this wasn't an idle conversation. this was an objective they tried to live up to every single day. they wanted every child to have the same simple opportunity. as superintendent of schools, my father -- in our county, my father successfully integrated our school system. i remember that as a young kid. one of the first counties to do that in our state. they did it there without incident. it was a military town. we had people again from all over the world, and it was a joint effort. my dad did not do it because it was the easy thing to do, the convenient thing to do. he did it because it was the right thing to do. in my own life, i have been blessed to interact with people from all over the world in my
career. my hometown of warner robbins is a military town. i went to school there, went to church there, played ball there, with people literally from all over the world. later on, my wife bonnie and i had the opportunity to live around the world in different places. this challenged our perspective in many ways. it helped us develop a deeper appreciation of how america's diversity is at once our greatest asset and, yes, sometimes our greatest challenge. however, i also recognize that as a white man, my perspective is by definition very different from those of african americans in my own community. we have these conversations all the time. i know i can never fully appreciate the pain and the adversity that many african americans have faced in my lifetime and still face today. that's wrong. we can fix that starting today, or at least start down that road
again. yes, we have made a lot of progress. i can see that in my own lifetime, but that's no reason to ignore this situation today or to sit back and not do anything. however, as dr. king said at the lincoln miller, we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. right now, the united states senate has the opportunity to fight for justice for all. today we will be voting to -- it's a technicality, but it's a motion to proceed. this is nothing more than to just start on the bill. i hear my democratic colleagues talking about well, it's not perfect. it's only 75% of the solution. well, okay, great. let's start there. the purpose of the motion to proceed is to put a bill on the floor and actually debate it, have amendments. this bill is not perfect. it doesn't satisfy all the things i want to do, but it's a start. i plan to offer amendments.
i'm sure the presiding officer wants to offer amendments. we welcome amendments in this process. the majority leader has said we will have an open amendment process. what we want to do is offer up this as a starting point, not a final solution. today we'll start voting -- we'll have the vote whether or not to start actually working on the justice act. senator tim scott has led a small task force to come up with a starting point, a bill that we can actually put our hands on, read, and then start changing. i'm proud to be a cosponsor. we have many cosponsors. i think that we'll probably have a unanimous vote on that on the republican side today, mr. president. my prayer is that we will have many on the democratic side say look, we understand it's not perfect. we want this, we want that. let's put it into work and let's start working on this now. it should be a foregone conclusion that we get overwhelming bipartisan support to support the law, debate the
bill. let's make it a good law. if it's not to your satisfaction, fine, let's debate it. some say well, we don't trust the majority leader. you don't have to trust the majority leader. the rules of the senate protect each individual senator once we put the bill in play, but if we don't put the bill on the floor, nobody is protected, especially our constituents. unfortunately, many of my colleagues on the other side are attempting to shut down this debate, before we even start. they say it doesn't go far enough. they call it a token, mr. president. that's absurd. it's ridiculous, insulting. particularly to my good friend, tim scott. look, none of us believe this bill is perfect or end-all as it is. as i said, we have ditches on this side. -- we have differences on this side. but we're willing to put it on the floor. we allowed the democrats to do things like this where we went on the floor -- if you don't like what we end up with, you can always vote it down on
cloture. all we're pleading for today is a motion to proceed to allow this bill to go on the floor and be fully debated. it is a starting point for debate and true compromise. isn't that what our job is? isn't that what we're supposed to do? what major bill has come before this 0 bed in perfect -- this body this perfect form at the very outset? i can't think of any. if you have issues with this bill, let's debate it. offer amendments. don't let perfect be the enemy of the good, please. on major issues like this, it is our duty to coal -- to come together, to find common ground, to fight for what's right. this bill offers many solutions that will help trust between our law enforcement and communities they serve. these are just ideas. they provide solutions that all of us can get behind right now. in addition to modifying the rules concerning the use of force and providing body cams, this bill does several critical
things to establish that trust and provide additional funding to help improve our police officers. it incentivizes police recruiting to reflect the demographics of the communities they severability how simple is that, mr. president? this is a big step. if the police live in the communities they serve, if they reflect the demographics of that community, if they identify with the people of that community, it's a lot easier to develop trust and common ground. second, this bill encourages de-escalation training for law enforcement officers. this will help law enforcement develop the skills and techniques they need to prevent public interactions that lead to the violence we've seen of late. third, this bill creates a database that helps our communities root out those who do not serve the public, even though they're enforcing law. the bottom line is that this bill increases funding for law enforcement. it doesn't defund law enforcement or eliminate the
police officers, mr. president. these solutions that we're offering up as a starting point are meaningful. they will restore the confidence of our communities and hold accountable police officers who abuse their positions or who are poorly trained. most of us who truly want change also understand that eliminating police forces is not the answer. our police forces are to serve and protect our communities, all of our communities, and there needs to be change before they can be successful in that. we've proven in the past that they can come together to the fight for what is right. we did it providing permanent funding for our hbcu's, our historically black colleges and universities. we did it when we created opportunity zones in communities of color across the country, many of them economically challenged. and in 2018, when we passed the bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, the biggest one in the last 50 years, that was true
progress, mr. president. we did it. we can do it again today. but first we have to put this bill on the floor. we have to start the debate. we have to pass this motion to proceed or, guess what? no debate will happen. they'll talk to their base. republicans will talk to our base, and nothing will happen. a pox on all of us if we let that happen. if democrats shut down this bill today, it will demonstrate a lack of sincerity, in my opinion, to at least engage and find solutions. this is no different than the immigration solution just a couple of years ago. when the president of the united states, donald trump, offered up a path to citizen and we couldn't even get a debate going with the other side. they turned it down because it was president trump's suggestion. all of us need to remember, while we look different, we might talk differently, we certainly may think severnly, we really are -- think differently, we really are one nation under
god. our diversity makes us stronger, the leader of the world in our current time. what unites us is far greater than what divides us. let's work on this bill today, start building a more perfect union for every american. let's vote yes on this motion to proceed. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. scott: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. scott: i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. scott: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to complete my remarks before the roll call vote. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. scott: thank you, mr. president. we come here today with an opportunity to say to america, specifically to communities of color, i have experienced your
pain, stopped 18 times in the last two decades, and one year seven times as an elected official in this body trying to get into the chamber and into the office buildings on the congressional side. i understand some part of what too many have experienced. this police reform legislation, the justice act, provides clear opportunities for us to say not only do we hear you, not only do we see you, we are responding to your pain because we in america believe that justice should be applied equally to all of our
citizens with no exceptions. and when we see exceptions, it is our responsibility to do something about those exceptions and this legislation helps us get there. i say to my colleagues on the other side, we received a letter from senator schumer saying that there were five things about the justice act that did not meet their principles. my response was a simple one. let's have five amendments on those things. if we can get the votes on these two sides of the chamber, we should include that in the legislation. i met with other senators on the other side who said that there are more than five things that we need to have a conversation about. so i said, let's include an
amendment for every single issue you have. they did not stick around for that meeting. so, mr. president, my concern is that 80% just won't do. my concern is that our friends on the other side will not take advantage of this opportunity to say to the communities that are suffering, we see you, we hear you, we are willing to respond as one body. mr. president, i implore all of us to vote for the motion to proceed so that if there are recommendations that come in the form of amendments that we have a vote up or down on those
amendments. i offered as many amendments as necessary for this bill to be seen by the public in consultation with the other side, let it be there bill, not tim scott's bill, not the republican bill, not the democrat bill but a bill that starts to address the issues that have plagued this nation for decades. this is not my start. i started five years ago but i could not find voices that would push forward reforms brought to attention by the walter scott shooting in 2015. i'll close with this. i respect people that i disagree
with. they have the right to disagree. my pastor tells me i have the right to be wrong, which means i'm not right all the time. but on this one, if you don't think we're right, make it better. don't walk away. 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. this is an opportunity to say yes -- to say yes, not to us, but those folks who are waiting for leadership to stand and be counted. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: under the previous order, all post later time is ex -- cloture time is expired. the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second?
the presiding officer: the yeas are 52, the nays are 48. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion. we, the undersigned senators, under the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to proceed to calendar number 480, s. 3985, a bill to improve and reform policing practices, accountability, and transparency, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, -- order in the senate. the question is, is it the sense
chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? on this vote, the yeas are 5, the nays a 45. fleece of the senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted in the affirmative, the motion is not agreed to. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader of the senate. mr. mcconnell: i have a motion to reconsider the vote. the presiding officer: motion is entered. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i want to change the reason i changed to no. i am in strong support of the bill crafted by the senator from south carolina. in order to have an opportunity to reconsider the vote without waiting for two days, i changed my vote and moved to reconsider, which means that it could come back at any time, should progress be made. i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to legislative session for a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without
objection. mr. mcconnell: i have seven requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly note. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to calendar number s. 4049. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to s. 4049, a bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2021 for military activities with the department of defense and so forth and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: i send a cloture motion to the deck for the motion to proceed. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to proceed to calendar number 483, s. 4049, a bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2021 and so forth and for other purposes, signed by 17 senators -- mr. mcconnell: i ask that the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum call be waived. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. scott: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. scott: thank you, mr. president. i will going to yield two minutes to the senator from georgia. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia is recognized. mr. perdue: i stand in strong support and solidarity with my colleague from south carolina, tim scott. five years ago -- [inaudible] -- one-hour bible study, after going through one hour of bible study, where they prayed for him, read the bible to him, he pulled out a gun and shot nine people. mr. president, you and i not long after that attended one of the funerals in charleston, south carolina. tim was there. any other city in america would not have dealt with it the way charleston, south carolina, did. charleston dealt with that with love. it is something we don't talk about often, but tim scott was there. because of his time and because
of the black leaders, and the time and grade they had had for each other, they moved feud and overcame that tragedy. five years ago tim scott put a bill on this floor and we ended up then in exactly the same place we are now, doing absolutely nothing. how many more black men and women will have to die in america before this body stops playing politics with race? it's very clear to me, having worked hard on justice reform, opportunities -- on $75 billion going into the most economically challenged communities in our country, our historically black colleges and universities are stronger today because of president trump than they ever have been, mr. president, the time to act is now to stop playing politics, stop pandering to the democratic base, and
let's get something done. this bill was never intended to be an end-all. it was intended to be a platform for constructive debate, and here we are with only two democratic senators voting to even start the debate. i yield back to my friend, tim scott. mr. scott: thank you, senator perdue. mr. president, there is a scripture in the bible in the book of ezekiel, chapter 33, somewhere around verse 36. that scripture talks about a watchman on a wall. and his job is to simply say there's danger coming. very important job. the watchman's job is to simply say there is danger coming. i had that conversation, as senator perdue spoke about, five years ago. i didn't find anyone on the other side willing to engage in
that conversation then, and here we are five years later. there is danger coming. i want us to hear this clearly because as we look out on the streets of america and we see more unrest and we see more challenging situations, realize that there is danger coming. the watchman's responsibility is to call out the danger, and as the bloodshed happens, the blood, according to ezekiel, will not be on the hands of the watchman. but if he does not shout out, if he does not articulate that there is danger coming, then the blood is on his hands.
mr. president, there is danger coming. we are in dangerous times. the source of this danger is not the failure of this bill on this floor at this time. nope. this is merely a symptom of the danger that i believe is right in front of us. this is only a symptom of a much deeper issue, a systemic problem. let me explain. i'm a kid who grew up in poverty , abject poverty in many ways. there's much worse poverty in america and certainly around the world than i grew up in. i'm talking about the poverty where when you come home and you hit the light switch, there's no light. i'm talking about the kind of poverty that when you had a phone attached to the wall and
you picked it up, there's no sound. there are people who lived in worse poverty than i, but that is poverty from my perspective. i lived in that poverty and one of the challenging situations of poverty that manifests is hopelessness. i was that hopeless kid in america. mired in poverty, in a single-parent household, under the impression that the only way that i can escape poverty is through athletics or entertainment. i was hopeless. and from seven years old to 14 years old, i drifted and all drifting leads in the wrong direction. i failed out of high school, embarrassed my mom, who was working 16 hours a day because i felt like there was no hope in this country for a little black boy like me. 14 years old. failed spanish, english, world
geography, and civics. civics, as we all know, is as close as it gets to politics. i will say that this body as a whole today is failing civics. we're failing at politics. but as the lord would have it, i had an amazing mother who believed that it was her responsibility to pray me out of the hard situations i found myself, and then i had the good fortune of meeting a money -- mentor after i got through summer school. they reequity doctored me. i pulled -- they redirected me. i pulled myself together with the help of a praying family, a praying grandmother and a whole lot of faith. i caught up with my class. i graduated on time, earned a small football scholarship, went to college, earned a degree in
political science. along the way, i joined the naacp, joined many organizations in the community because i knew that part of my responsibility was to be socially engaged in making a difference, no matter how small that difference could be. the one organization i didn't even think about joining was the republican party. why would i ever think about joining the republican party? because growing up every african american, every black person i knew of, was wed to the democrat party, because it's better to have a seat in the room than be outside. that was the heritage i grew up in. let me fast-forward to where we are today and i'll return to that. today we lost -- i lost -- a
vote on a piece of legislation that would have led to systemic change in the relationship between the communities of color and the law enforcement community. we would have broken this concept in this nation that somehow some way you have to either be for law enforcement or for communities of color. that is a false binary choice. it's just not true. this legislation spoke to the important issues that have brought us here today. we wouldn't be here if it were not, as senator perdue alluded to, the death of yet another african american man, george floyd, his murder is why the country has given us the opportunity to lead, to lead. and my friends on the other side
just said no. not no to the legislation. they just said no. and why am i saying that they didn't just say no to the legislation? it's because along the way i sat down with many of them and said, what do you need? and senator schumer sent a letter telling -- i believe it was senator mcconnell -- there are five things in the legislation that needed to be improved. i said, let's give them the five amendments. i sat down with more senators and they said, wait, wait, wait. there's not just five. there's 20. i said, how about 20 amendments? and they walked out. you see, this process is not broken because of the legislation. this is a broken process beyond that one piece of legislation. it's one of the reasons why
communities of color, young americans of all colors, are losing faith in the institutions of authority and power in this nation. because we're playing small ball. we're playing for those in the insulated chambers. we're playing for presidential politics. that's small ball. playing the big boys game is playing for the kids who can't represent themselves. and if you don't like what you see, change it. we offered them opportunities, at least one i offered, the change. they said to me, you can't offer 20 amendments? why not? because mitch mcconnell won't give you 20 amendments. i spoke to mitch mcconnell. he said you can have 20 amendments. i told them that. we went to a press conference
yesterday and we said in open process. they didn't want an open process. they want one thing and i'm going to get to that. so i asked my friends, what is it, what is it you don't like about where we're going? they said well, the data collection area. this is a problem. the data collection area is a problem. tell me the problem. the problem is we're not collecting data. wait a second. i could have sworn when i wrote the legislation we were collecting data. i flipped through the pages and realized we're cleacting data -- collecting data for seriously bodily injury and death. they said we want to collect data on all uses of force. i said put it in an amendment and i'll support it. that was just one bone of contention. i said well, tell me another
one. they said, our bone of contention is that we need you to ban no-knock warrants because of the breonna taylor situation. i said your bill does not ban no-knock warrants for the breonna taylor situation. your bill bans it for federal agents. there's not a secret service agent showing up at breonna taylor's door. that was a local police department. so the fact that they're saying that they want to ban no-knock warrants knowing they cannot ban no-knock warrants tells me that this is not about the underlying issue. it's bigger than that. i said well, i'll give you an amendment, though, and we can have that fight on the floor of the united states senate. as a matter of fact, i said, tell me any issue you have with
the legislation. well, we went to de-escalation training, the duty to intervene, best practices. i said in the legislation, in the legislation, in the legislation. you know, i don't have any hair so i didn't pull it out. here's where i said let's talk about tactics then. they said you don't ban choke holds. i could have sworn i banned choke holds in there somewhere. and then i read the bill. they don't ban choke holds on the local level, the state level. you know why? there's this little thing called the constitution. they can't ban choke holds. eric garner's situation would not have been cured by their ban on choke holds because their ban on choke holds were for federal agents.
our legislation instructed the attorney general to ban choke holds for federal agents. and what else did we do? well, we said we would reduce funding by 20%. they reduced funding by 10%. so our penalty was twice the penalty of the other side, and this is supposed to be an issue. mr. president, i'm not sure we have found the issue. we haven't. it's not dhoak -- choke holds. it's not the duty to intervene, data collection. i said on choke holds -- senator -- sat there meeting with them. senator, it's your definition of choke holds. that's a problem.
see, i assume that when you think of choke holds, you think of a choke hold. but there is a distinction of the carotid air flow versus blood flow. ours only covered one, not the other. i said okay, you have an amendment. i'll vote for it. we'll change it. they said we're not here to talk about that. wait a second. if we're not here to debate the issue on the motion to proceed so that we can not fix 50% of the bill, not 70% of the bill but literally slivers, slight changes on parts of the bill that would move this entire process forward. you have the amendments to do so. i even said something that i
didn't think i would say. i said what about a managers' amendment. let's just fix everything in one fail swoop. they said no thank you. so i find it disenginessous when people say why don't you sit down with one member and work it out. if a managers amendment won't do it, if the five amendments -- five things in the letter they said they wanted fix it, won't do trks amendments won't do it, you have an open process on the united states senate that requires us 60 votes to get off of the bill, then what, pray tell, is the problem? well, i finally realized what the problem is, mr. president. the actual problem is not what is being offered. it is who is offering it.
took me a long time to figure out the most obvious thing in the room. it's not the what. i've listened to the press conferences. i've read the newspapers. i'm not sure anyone who is actually reporting on the bill has actually read the bill. because the next time i see another story or editorial that says we don't do this. their bill does that. and you put the two together and it's not just off, it's just dead wrong. so i realized finally it's the who that's offering this. now, i have dealt with the problem of who before. as a black man, i get the who being the problem. it's one of the reasons why i went to senator mcconnell and said i want to lead this conversation. i'm the person in our conference
who has experienced firsthand racial discrimination, racial profiling by law enforcement, and i'm still a fan because i believe most law enforcement officers are good. but i'm the guy, i am your guy, mitch, because this is my issue. this is an issue for every poor kid growing up in every poor neighborhood in this nation who feels like when i leave my home for a jog, i might not come back. this is a serious issue. this is an issue for every single kid who says is this my country? we've heard no. this is the issue that we should be solving, not the legislative issue. that's not the issue. the issue is do we matter? we had an opportunity to say you matter so much, we'll stay on this floor for as long as it takes and as many amendments as
it takes for us to get to the issue that says yes, you matter. but we said no today. 56 people said yes. four short, four short of saying yes. yes to having enough information to direct training and resources in such a way that we could hold people accountable. we were four shorts vote of saying yes to having a powerful tool of pooling resources to compel behavior on choke holds. because i believe if we'd gotten on the bill, we would have passed this bill. but that is the problem, by the way. that's the who i'm talking about. as a black guy, i know how it feels to walk into a store and
have the little clerk follow me around, even as a united states senator. i get that. i've experienced that. i understand the traffic stops. i understand that when i'm walking down the street and some young lady clutches on to her purse and myinstinctistoge a little further away because i don't want any issues with anybody, i understand that. but what i missed in this issue is that the stereotyping of republicans is just as toxic and poison to the outcomes of the most vulnerable communities in this nation. that's the issue. when speaker pelosi says one of the most heinous things i can imagine that the republicans are actually trying to cover up murder, the murder of george floyd with our legislation,
that's not politics. that's not a game to win. that's you lose. you will sooner or later lose. but immediately every kid around the nation that heard that nonsense lost that moment. you see, what's become evident to me is that she knows something that we all know. she knows that she can say that because the democrats have a monopoly on the black vote. and no matter the return on their loyalty -- i am telling you the most loyal part of the
democrat construct, black communities. and no matter the loyalty of the people, the return they get will always continue to go down because in monopolies, you start devaluing your customer. you see, today we could have given at the very minimum 70% of what they say would be important for the people we say we serve. but instead of having a debate on that today and getting not five amendments but 20 amendments, a managers amendment, instead of going forward and getting what you want now, they've decided to punt this ball until the election. you know why? because they believe that the polls reflect a 15 points deaf -- 15-point deficit on our side.
therefore they can get the vote they want in november. all they have to do is win the election. then roll in january and they get the chance to write the police reform bill without our support at all. well, this is what they did in the house, right? no amendments in the house from republicans on their bill. we're saying amendments on our side. democrats are saying no amendments in the house but you here in the united states senate because we are the world's greatest deliberative body, you can have amendments. not in the house. not under speaker pelosi. but under leader mcconnell, you get at least 20 amendments. i've got -- i'll throw in the managers amendment, too. that was not good enough because the irony of the story is not the bill. the irony of the story is that today and through the rest of june and all of july, what we're going to have here is instead of getting 70% of what you wanted
or more, you're going to get zero. how is that for a return? how is that for loyalty? how does that work for the little kid at a home in north charleston where walter scott got shot? how does that work around the country when instead of getting 70% of what you wanted, today and tomorrow and next week you get zero. and you're going to wait until the election to get more. okay. well, why wouldn't you take the 80% now, see if you can win the election and add on the other 20%. you've got to be kidding me. because the who matters, they cannot allow this party to be seen as a party that reaches out to all communities in this nation and unfortunately without the kind of objectivity in the
media that is necessary to share the message of what's actually happening, no one will ever kn know. because if you don't read it in the paper, it must not have happened. if you don't see it on tv, nbc or cnn, it must not be true. that's a problem. let me just say this. i think we are willing to be for every vote, everywhere, all the time. that might not be true in every corridor of the nation, but it's true in most corridors of the nation. and this party has reinforced that truth, not by the words coming out of my mouth, but by the actual legislation signed into law. senator perdue started talking about the important work that we did on opportunity zones, and i'm going to wrap it up in two minutes here.
it's lunch time. 2017, we passed tax reform. i included in the opportunity zones. $75 billion, real money, to the most distressed communities in this nation. how did that happen? well, me and president trump had a serious disagreement on his comments after charlottesville. he being a person that i was not looking forward to having a conversation with, invited me to the oval office. i sat down there and i said what do you want to talk about? the president said tell me about your perspective on racial history. i was stunned because if you know president trump like i know president trump, his love language is not words of encouragement. it just ain't. i know ain't ain't a word, but
it's not. but he listened. and at the end of our conversation, he simply said tell me how to help those i have offended. i didn't know what to say. so i pulled out my back opportunity and got opportunity zones. i didn't go in prepared for him to listen. it's not supposed to be funny, but it is. i mean, i didn't expect him to listen. but he did. he listened. he leaned in and he said tell me how to help the folks i have offended. let's work on opportunity zones together. he said yes. i said what? he said yes. he was concerned enough about the communities he had literally just offended, he was concerned enough to go to work on their behalf, and that's why we have opportunity zones. i thought well, this might work again. so i went back to the president and said, you know, there is a lot of work that needs to be done around the hbcu's, historically black colleges and universities. he said yes. he said yes.
we said yes. and let me just say this. when we started saying yes, we controlled the white house, we controlled the senate, and we controlled the house. so it wasn't because some democrat came over here and said in order to get our votes, you have to do this. that's not what happened. he said yes because the republican party said yes. we stood together with all three leaders of government under our control -- all three levers of government under our control. we got the student zone. we started the process of reinvesting in historically black colleges and universities. and the head of the united negro college fund said at my last fly-in that this is a record level of funding ever. his words, not mine. i'm not sure what ever is. maybe that's longer than i have been alive. literally more money for hbcu's ever. brought to you by the republican party. i said well, if that's working,
let's do it again. so we went to stem cell research, which stem cell research for sickle cell anemia, which is 100% basically -- a 99.95% african american disease. he said yes. lamar alexander, the head, the chairman of our help committee, we were fighting over funding for hbcu's. we made it permanent, permanent funding for the hbcu's led by a republican chairman of the education committee, president trump signs it. we have delivered historic funding and permanent funding for hbcu's. i'm not going to go to the -- because i'm running out of time. i'm not going to go through the prepandemic numbers in minority communities for unemployment. unemployment not only had a record low but we had labor force participation rate
increasing. let me say that different. not only did we get more jobs for black folks and brown folks, the number of folks in the community started having an increase in the number of folks working. this is called basic conservative politics. it works. seven million new jobs, two-thirds with african americans, hispanic, and women. and a -- in a full economy, all boats started rising. don't believe me. check your accounts. that's what it looks like. covid-19 hit us, and what did we do? we not only approved $2.3 trillion and then another $500 billion or so, and 3-point -- $450 billion that would be multiplied in the commercial facilities by probably seven or eight. $6 trillion relief package. but what did we do inside that package?
we targeted small businesses to save small businesses, and, by the way, we added a billion dollars for historically black colleges and universities. let me tell you what the biggest threat is. the biggest threat is that this republican party keeps showing up and delivering. i have got 12 more pages to go. it's like being at third when they are closing. literally, i have got 12 more pages of accomplishments to talk about. i'm not going to talk about it. don't look relieved. i'm not going to talk about it. i'm just here to tell you that if we're going to be serious about criminal justice reform and we passed it with the house, the senate, and the white house in the hands of republicans. we passed criminal justice reform to make up for the democrat bill, the 1994 crime bill that locked up
disproportionately african american men. the republican party passed criminal justice reform. with all relievers in our hand. i'm frustrated. i'm frustrated. because it's not a competition for the best ideas. it's not a competition for how to improve the poorest performing schools in america in the public education system that is consistently in black and brown communities, that your zip code determines the outcome of your life because you're not going to have a good education because we won't -- we won't touch teachers unions, we won't touch education in the way that it needs to be touched. governor scott did before he was a senator. it's one of the reasons i went down there and campaigned for him because he was serious about
helping poor kids get up and move on. let me just close with this. i don't know what it's going to take to wake up our entire nation about the importance of a duopoly and not a monopoly. because look at your results. look at the results we are getting. and by the way, when this bill is gone and next week we're on the d.o.d. or something else, we'll forget about this. we'll move on. people will forget about it. and you know what's going to happen? something bad. and we'll be right back here talking about what should have been done, what could have been done, why we must act now. i'm telling you i had this conversation five years ago. i'm having this conversation right now. we could do something right now. you know, here's the truth.
in detroit, atlanta, minneapolis, los angeles, philadelphia, all these cities could have banned choke holds themselves. they could have increased the police reporting themselves. they could have more data information themselves. they could have de-escalation training themselves. they could have duty to intervene themselves, minneapolis as well. all these communities have been run by democrats for decades. decades. what is the r.o.i. for the poorest people in this nation? and i don't blame them. i blame an elite political class with billions of dollars to do whatever they want to do and look at the results for the poorest, most vulnerable people in our nation.
i'm willing to compete for their vote. are you? a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. kaine: mr. president, i came to the floor to hear my colleague from south carolina with no notes, with an open heart and open ears because i knew he would be very disappointed that the motion to proceed failed, that he would have strong feelings about that because of his earnest desire to do police reform. i don't question that desire or the desire of any of the cosponsors of this bill just as i hope colleagues on the other side don't question the
sincerity of senators booker and harris and those who cosponsored their bill. but i came with no notes to listen to my colleague and then to offer a word of explanation. i am one of the 44 people who voted no. the senator from south carolina said those of us who voted no on the motion to proceed didn't vote no on the what, we voted no on the who. that's a stiff charge. that's a stiff charge. what i want to say is this -- i voted no not on the what and not on the who. i voted no on the how. on the how. we tried it the wrong way. let's try it the right way. my colleague from south carolina acts as if this discussion is
over. it's only over for those who want it to be over. we tried it the wrong way. let's try it the right way. what do i mean by that? i think everyone in the chamber knows what i mean by this. this is an amazingly important topic that is exciting deep and legitimate concern in the streets of every community in this country. there are two good-faith bills that have been introduced dealing with police reform. i see virtues in both. i favor the democratic bill, but that does not mean that i don't see virtues in the scott bill. i have only been in the senate seven years. i'm not an expert on procedure as some are who are standing in the chamber right now, but my service tells me there is a clear path to a bipartisan police reform bill that will do
a good job and will speak to an america that wants to see leadership that's bipartisan, and it's obvious these bills are both in the province of a judiciary committee that is chaired by a republican from south carolina, lindsey graham, whose ranking member dianne feinstein has been on that committee for a very long time. why are these bills not being taken up in committee with a republican majority and debated and marked up and reported to the floor in a bipartisan way? i serve on the armed services committee. that's what we do every year with the ndaa. we introduce it, we let members have the ability to offer amendments that can be voted on by a simple majority vote in committee, we get to the end of a process, and when no one has an amendment left, we then have a final bill and then we vote it out overwhelmingly bipartisan. the ndaa came out of committee
two weeks ago on a 26-2 vote. we will be taking it up on the floor. i'm on the help committee. i have a wonderful chair and ranking, senators alexander and senators murray, and we tackle tough issues with a committee that has some big personalities on it. i have got a couple of them in the room with me now and some great ideological diversity on that committee, but we take up tough issues. we don't always solve them, but we usually do. when we put our mind to it, we report something to the floor and we do it in a bipartisan way. when it comes in a bipartisan way, there is a great chance that we get action here on the floor. that's the right way to do things. it respects the traditions of the body because it is a majority that runs the committee, but it allows those who have devoted themselves to help issues or armed services issues or judiciary issues to offer their thoughts. when these bills were introduced, i assumed that a
committee ably led by senators graham and feinstein would put these bills together and have a markup and let people offer amendments with a 50% vote threshold and then report out a bipartisan bill. why why would the judiciary committee not do it? i believe the leaders of the committee wanted to do it, but i believe they were told not to do it. they were told, we're not going to use the committee process on this. we're going to force this to a floor vote, a snap vote, and then when it goes down, we will say, democrats killed it. it's all over, move on to the next issue. this is only over for anyone who wants it to be over. i think the vote today says we're not going to do it my way or the highway. we ought to do it the right way. the way we do the ndaa. the way we did the first step act. the first step act, criminal
justice reform, democrats and republicans working together in committee and then negotiating with jared kushner and others with at the white house. did something good that all can take credit for. how about the cares act? there's a recent example of this. the cares act was an unusual one. we were under an emergency. we were socially distant from each other. we couldn't even be in the same room as we were negotiating t and it was in multiple committees jurisdictions so it wasn't as if one committee was taking it up. but there was good faith, bipartisan negotiation on different pieces of it. one day the leader, leader mcconnell, called us all back to washington on a sunday to vote, not on the bipartisan-negotiated bill but on a partisan version. and, again, democrats on this side of the aisle said we are not ready to proceed. we're in the middle of bipartisan discussions.
we're not ready to proceed to the partisan bill because we are in the middle of bipartisan discussions that will have a payoff for this country, and so we voted no. not on the what, not on the who. we voted no on the how. we're not ready to proceed to a partisan my-way-or-the-highway bill when we're engaged in bipartisan discussions that can find a solution that's food for the country. and guess what happened? three days after that no, we were here on the floor voting yes. voting yes to a bipartisan bill that helped individuals and families, that created a grant program for small businesses, a loan program for large businesses, aid to state and local governments, aid to hospitals and nursing homes and health care providers. we voted no on the my way or the highway and said stay at the table with us, let's have bipartisan discussions, and we can get to a yes. and even as members of this body
were being diagnosed with coronavirus or exposed to it, we stayed at the table until we could get the work done and we did it for the good of the country. this discussion is not over unless people want it to be over. senator king and i on monday sent a letter to the two leaders and to the judiciary committee chair and ranking, and we said, for god's sake, with a nation that is crying out for solutions that can show some unity, please do with this bill what we know will work, what has worked -- let the judiciary committee take it up promptly, let them work and report it to the floor, and we can do this bill before the august recess and do it in a way where in committee and on the floor everyone has chance to participate and we can get a win for the american public on a topic that is critically important.
it is my hope we will still do that. again, the tenor of some of the conversations is if this is how over and in the rearview mirror not to be returned to until september. i don't accept that. i don't accept that. these bills are pending. we have a judiciary committee that can do this work. i went to the judiciary committee this morning to introduce a judicial nominee and asked members of the committee who were there, if you took these bills up in committee, could you find a bipartisan result? and the answer they gave to me was yes. i didn't vote no for the what. i didn't vote no for the who. i voted no for the how. i know how we can do this bill, and shame on us on a matter of such seriousness if we don't engage in a process whose seriousness matches the graffiti
of the moment. and with that, mr. chair, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from from nebraska. mr. sasse: i would indulge -- if the senator from maryland was first, i have 40 he could is of comments. but -- thank you. i respect the senator from virginia, but i'd like to note for the record as someone who's spent a lot of time on this working group, senator kaine repeatedly said, my way or the highway approach. i think it is important for us to admit that this is an open-amendment process that's been proposed and that some of the democrats who have come to some of the meetings to negotiate when stunned when tim went from five amendments to 20 amendments to what number do you want. it's the opposite of a my-way-or-the-highway approach. an open-amendment process where dozens have been offered, it's not a my-way-or-the-highway approach. absolutely. mr. kaine: you are a member of the judiciary committee, isn't that right, senator sasse?
mr. sasse: one of the most dysfunctional committees in the senate. i am. mr. kaine: when you have markups in the judiciary committee like the first step act, and someone proposes appear amendment to a mark, isn't the standard vote on the amendment a 50 vote -- if it gets a majority? the committee, the amendment is added to the bill? mr. sasse: there are so many different procedures in the judiciary committee. you defined yourself sasse a rookie. i am a rookie to your rookie. i am new on judiciary. there are a lot of ways. the way you're defining is usually the model. but there is a lot of ways -- you have another question. mr. kaine: my experience on every committee that i am on is when we do a markup in committee it is a simple majority, not allowing a simple majority amendment process in committee, but saying oh, we'll give you some amendments on the floor with a 60-vote threshold, it is not the same thing.
it doesn't allow the ability to persuade a majority of my colleagues as to whether it is a good idea or not. that's why this bill was not sent to committee but just put on the floor. so i don't -- to respond, i get that senator scott -- and i appreciate that he said we should have open amendments on the floor. but depriving people of the ability to offer amendments, can i convince the majority of colleagues in the committee, that is already stacking the deck, in my view. mr. sasse: i told the senator from maryland i'd get out of his way faster. so thanks for your question. mr. cardin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland is recognized. mr. cardin: thank you, madam president. over the weekend i was reflecting on the times that our nation finds itself in today. we are witnessing the rebirth of a new civil rights movement when it comes to reforming our police departments. americans now know the names of george floyd, beown in a taylor,
freddie gray and so many others. the protests we've seen throughout the nation and world are a direct result of the incredible leap in technology. where individual citizens and officers themselves can record interactions between police officers and members of the committee in real-time. mr. president, but for these troubling interactions between the citizens and the police officers, we saw it on video. it's not new, but we now have the evidence. they just happened to be caught creating stronger legal evidence of misconduct and abuse. today as our nation experiences yet another civil rights movement, this time during a pandemic, i want to share with my colleagues some words of inspiration i often turn to in times of trouble. first is the constitution. we the people of the united states, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice
but first mentioned in the constitution. so let us think how we in the united states can help to establish justice as we are exhorted to do by the constitution, which we are sworn to uphold and defend. the second set of words i would like to share with you are from my colleague and dear friend, the late elijah cummings. representative cummings gave the eulogy for freddie gray in 2015 who died after being ahe rested and taken into police custody. elijah closed with a quote from the old at the timement, the book of amos. i want justice, oceans of it. i want fairness, rivers of it. that's what i want. that's all i want. the third story i want to share with my colleagues is the inspiration i felt from reading dr. martin luther king jr.'s letter from a birmingham jail in april of 1963. he wrote, we know through
painful experiences that freedom is never voluntarily i have goin' by the oppressor. it must be demanded by the oppressed. frankly, i've yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was well-timed. in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. for years now i've heard the word wait. it rings in the ear of every negro with piercing familiarity. this wait has almost always meant never. we must come to see with you on of our distinguished jurists that justice too long delayed is justice deniedment we have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional god-given rights. perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say wait, but when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will, drown your brothers and sisters at whim, when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, and even
kill your black brothers and sisters, when you see the vast majority of 20 million negro brothers and sisters smothering in the airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society, when you have to concoct an answer for a 5-year-old son who is asking, dad did i, why do white people treat colored people so mean, when you are hurried by day, haunted by night by the fact that you are a negro living constantly is at tip-toe stance never knowing what to expect next and are plague with the inner fears and outer resentments, when you are forever fighting on the denigrating sense of nobodiness that you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. there comes a time when the cup ofendurance runs out and men are no longer willing to plunge into the boss of despair. i hope, sirs, you understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. so this weekend as i was thinking about our charge to
establish justice in the constitution and the pleas from elijah cummings and dr. king, i contemplated where we are today. we're at a point in our nation that we need to make transformational change when it comes to our police officers and their fundamental relationships was our communities. particularly the african american community and the communities of color. we can no longer wait. we must make bold changes now. so, madam president, i agree with leader schumer sand senators booker and harris who are the authors of the justice in policing act. my concern is that the legislation authored by senator scott, the justice act, falls dangerously short for what we need for comprehensive, effective, and transformational police reform that our country and the american people are demanding. i, therefore, hope that leader mcconnell will negotiate with leader schumer so that we can work on a bipartisan bill and establish a constructive starting point on policing reform. i listened to the debate with
senator scott and senator kaine, and i've seen this before. when you bring a partisan bill to the floor where there's no prearranged opportunity to offer the types of amendments with simple-majority votes so the rule of the senate can prevail, when you start from a point that cannot lead to a successful conclusion, you shouldn't start. you should go back to negotiate a truly bipartisan bill. we should use the model of the cares act bill that was signed into law in response to the coronavirus pandemic. let me just highlight a few of my concerns with the justice act. this legislation does not contain any mechanisms to hold law enforcement officers accountable in court thor their misconduct. for example, it makes no changes in law when it comes to qualified immunity or criminal intent standards for law enforcement. current legal standards have allowed law enforcement officers
to evade criminal viability for excessive use of force and has shielded officers from liability even when they violate citizens' constitutional rights. the justice act does not implement a public national misconduct registry necessary to ensure communities have information necessary to hold their law enforcement officers accountable. the justice act fails to establish the collection of all use-of-force data and data related to religious and racial profiling and does nothing to end harmful policing practices like religious and racial profiling. by contrast, the justice in policing act offered by senators booker and harris does contain legislation i offered to end religious and racial profiling act. why do we need that? studies have shown that blacks are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for selling drugs, despite the fact that whites are more likely to sell drugs. studies show that blacks are 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for possessing drugs despite using drugs at the same rates as
whites. this is just wrong. congress and even president trump recognize this when we made some modest improvements with the first step act. that was a bipartisan bill and started as a bipartisan bill, and we were able to get it enacted. the end raishus and religious -- -- by eliminating racial and religious-based discriminatory profiling at all levels of law enforcement by changing policies and procedures. it allows police to not waste resources. it requires enhanced data collection. it holds state and local enforcement agencies accountable by accounting additional funds on best practices to combat profiling by officers. it eliminates once and for all discriminatory profiling.
it's in the justice -- in the booker-harris bill, it's not in the scott bill. underlying justice act doesn't have any underlying standards. by contrast the justice in policing act contains the law enforcement truts and integrity act which takes a comprehensive approach on how local police organizations can adopt performance-based standards to ensure that instances of misconduct will be minimized through training an oversight. that legislation takes steps to mitigate police violence with the transformation of public safety practices. in baltimore we have an ongoing federal partnership with city law enforcement following the tragic death of freddie gray jr. this is continued etch forts to build trust between communities and police and encourages the establishment of more effective police models. the legislation i provide will
help communities reimagine and have equitable public safety approaches. this is in the booker-harris bill. it's not in the scott bill. the justice act does not adequately address the issue of no-knock warrants in drug cases nor does it adequately address the use of choke holds and doesn't have a national use of force standard. by contrast the justice in policing will have deadly force only as a last resort while requiring officers to imemploy de-escalation techniques. this is from the leadership conference on civil and human rights. that conference rights, we write to express our strong opposition to s. 3985, the justice act. the justice act is inadequate response to the decades of pain,
hardship and devastation that black people have and continue to endure as a result of systematic racism and lacks policies that hold police accountable for misconduct. abuse in policing practice coupled with state sanction violence has been enacted since brutality on black people since the nation's founding. police shot and killed more than 1,000 people in the united states over the past year and black people are disproportionately more likely to be killed by white. this is a response not only to the unjustice policing of black people but to ask that justice officials hold structural changes. the letter concludes, passing watered-down legislation that fails to remedy the actual harms resulting in the loss of life is a moral statement that is inconsistent with a genuine
belief that black lives matter. anything less than full support for comprehensive legislation that holds police accountable is inexcusable. so, madam president, let me close my remarks once again by sharing some words from dr. king. from the march in washington in 1963. in his famous speech at the foot of the lincoln memorial in washington, d.c., dr. king said, in a sense we've got to our nation's capitol to -- capital to cash a check. when the architectings of our republic wrote the words of the constitution and declaration of independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every american was to fall heir. this was a promise that black men and white would be guaranteed the right to the pursuit of happiness. it is obvious that america defaulted on this promissory note insofar as citizens of color are concerned. we refuse to believe the bank of justice is bankrupt.
we refuse to believe there are insufficient funds in the great vault of opportunity in this nation. so we come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. dr. king and continued by saying we have also come to this hallowed spot to remind america the fierce urgency of now. this is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or taking a tranquilizer drug. now is the time to make real the promise of democracy. now is the time to raise us to the solid rock of brother hood. now is the time to make justice a reality for all of god's children. it would be fatal for the nation to overlook the emergency of the moment. the house of representatives is scheduled to pass their version of the justice in policing act on thursday. let us take up meaningful legislation in the senate as the base bill negotiated between democrats and republicans.
the presiding officer: the senator from iowa is recognized. a senator: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. ernst: thank you, madam president. the murder of george floyd captured the attention and the emotions of the entire world. in the weeks that have followed, folks around the world have been crying out for a change, an end to racial inequality and the beginning of a new era of justice, understanding, and healing. while sometimes uncomfortable,
this conversation is much needed and, in my opinion, it is long overdue. and, folks, it should not have taken the loss of a life for us to begin to talk and to listen and to learn. i grew up in a predominately white community, but as a young woman i was blessed, truly blessed, to live, learn, and work in communities that were rich in diversity. it is difficult to understand the unfairness someone faces due to their skin color, but we can make time to listen. i did this last week when i sat down with our own senate chaplain barry black. for those who do not know him, chaplain black is a remarkable
and inspiring person. after serving over 27 years in the united states navy, he now serves as a spiritual guide for senators and opens our proceedings every day with a thoughtful prayer. one of my favorite things he told me was about a lesson his mother had taught him. she told him that god gave us two ears, two eyes, but only one mouth, and we should use them proportionately. i believe the united states is by far the greatest country in the world, but that does not mean we don't have past and current issues that we need to address. and let's be frank, it was not a single isolated event, the murder of mr. floyd, that
incited the raw emissions -- emotions that are still building weeks later. in iowa governorror reynolds signed an historic police bill which will add additional accountability for law enforcement. this will benefit both the community and the police. and, folks, here's what's remarkable about this new law. partisanship wasn't a factor. republican house majority leader mat wischittle, two extraordinary leaders that ushered this bill through the house and through our
legislator, spoke with me this morning and they said -- both of them said that while they don't each of them view this as a perfect bill, it was more cosmetic. it had real meaning and depth, and it was a first step. a first step. and i agreed with them because any journey starts with a single step, a meaningful step. the bill passed the iowa house by a vote, again with these two extraordinary leaders, by a vote of 98-0. unanimous. it then went to the iowa senate and it passed in the iowa senate
49-0. partisanship wasn't a factor. the only thing that mattered was doing the right thing. so not a single dissenting vote was cast, and it even had the endorsement of the iowa police officers association. we're only going to improve as a nation if we come together -- together -- and make everyone a part of the solution. we can do that. iowa put politics aside and they got it done, and i wish we could see more of iowa in this chamber. we need both sides of the aisle to unite and to parse senator
tim scott's justice act. the justice act offers real solutions to police reform by increasing oversight, strengthening incident report requirements and ensuring the correct use of body cameras. and it includes an issue i've been working to address, sexual misconduct within our law enforcement. the justice act is simply a commonsense approach to effective police reform. the bill includes a number of bipartisan provisions, including the antilynching proposal put forward by senators john cornyn and kamala harris. it's heart breaking that the bill -- heartbreaking that the bill to address these issues was blocked by senate democrats. the senate exists so we can
debate these issues in a civil manner and reach a consensus so they aren't resolved in the streets. we can't do that if the other side chooses to shut down meaningful debate or give in to radical ideas like defunding the police, which won't solve the problem of inequality or end violence. so i ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, are you willing to come to the table? are you willing to accept that amendment process? are you willing to take that first step, the first step in our journey? will you put politics aside and help us enact reforms to ensure the safety of our communities? our nation's journey towards becoming a m