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.'
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding police reform:
"Today was supposed to bring progress for an issue that is weighing heavy on the American mind. 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.
"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.
"We are literally arguing... about whether to stop arguing... about whether to start arguing about something else.
"I could stand here for an hour and extoll 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, data, and lived experience.
"It focuses on improving accountability and restoring trust. It addresses key issues like chokeholds and no-knock warrants. It expands reporting, and transparency in hiring, and training for de-escalation.
"I am proud to stand with this legislation.
"But the reality is that nobody thought the first offer from the Republican side was going to be the final product that traveled out of the Senate. What happens in this body is that we vote or agree to get onto a bill, and then we discuss, debate, and amend it until at least 60 Senators are satisfied — or it goes nowhere.
"The vote we'll take in a few hours is just that very first step. We aren't passing a bill. We aren't making policy decisions. It is just a procedural vote to say police reform is the subject the Senate will tackle next.
"But alas, our Democratic colleagues have suddenly begun to signal they are 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 and on the floor, the Democratic Leader and the junior Senators for 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.
"But this time, Senate Democrats say that 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 unless I pre-negotiate 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 it was that Congress address police reform and racial justice.
"For weeks, the Democratic Leader blustered that the Senate simply had to address this issue before July 4th.
"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. 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 debate. They don't want amendments. They'll filibuster police reform from even reaching the floor of the Senate unless the majority lets the minority rewrite the bill behind closed doors and 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, quote, "trying to get away with murder... the murder of George Floyd."
"Are you 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. Armies of elites and Twitter mobs stand ready to pounce on any speech they deem problematic, and yet unhinged comments like this get a 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 an art form.
"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 going 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 those views in advance, behind closed doors.
"No final legislation can pass without 60 votes. If Democrats do not like the final product, it will not pass.
"The only way there is any downside for Democrats to come to the table is if they'd rather preserve this urgent subject as a live campaign issue than pass a bipartisan answer.
"This majority has done everything we can to proceed on 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.
"Senate Republicans are ready to make a law. We are 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. And we cannot get an outcome if Democrats will 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."