Democrats block start of Senate debate on police reform

Unhappy with the details of a GOP proposal on police reform and accountability, Democrats on Wednesday blocked the Senate from even starting debate on the Senate floor on the issue, drawing sharp rebukes from Republican Senators.

"This is an opportunity to say yes," said Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), the author of the GOP police plan, as he implored Democrats to just begin debate on a variety of issues.

"If you don't think we're right, make it better," Scott said to Democrats. "Don't walk away."

60 votes were needed to force a start of the debate.  The Senate vote was 55-45.

"As recently as last week, leading Democrats called it a life or death issue for the Senate to take up this subject, this month," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

"Well - here we are," McConnell added.

But most Democrats voted against ending debate on a motion to start the debate - leaving the GOP police reform bill in limbo.

Only Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted with Republicans.  Independent Senator Angus King (I-ME) also voted to start debate.

Democrats argued the GOP bill was too weak on police reforms and accountability changes, as they demanded negotiations to toughen the provisions.

"The Senate GOP bill creates commissions to study what we already know is a reality for Black Americans," said Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE). "It fails to meet the moment."

"It couldn’t be more clear that the Republicans’ attempt to pass their watered-down policing bill is meant to derail meaningful reform," said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).

"The GOP policing reform bill fails across the board," said Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). "It's a non-starter."

It wasn't immediately clear what would be next, as the House is scheduled to vote on Thursday on a police reform bill backed by Democrats.

Republicans noted that without any action by the full Senate, that reform bill from House Democrats would go nowhere, and nothing would be accomplished on police reform.

"A pox on all of us if we let that happen," said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).

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