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GOP, Dems signal willingness to compromise on police reform

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) is chairwoman of the

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) is chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Credit: Getty Images/Pool

Federal lawmakers said Sunday they will work to reform policing as protesters continue to demand systemic change following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Republicans and Democrats expressed a willingness to compromise to ensure legislation is passed, saying a failed effort would send a bad message to the public.

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said she was “extremely confident” Congress will get a bill on President Donald Trump’s desk.

“The pressure is on us and I really feel we’re going to act,” Bass said on "Fox News Sunday." “The conversations with my Republican colleagues, even at our first hearing, has been very positive.”

Sen. Tim. Scott (R-S.C.), who is working on a slate of reform proposals for Republicans, said officials need to meld proposals. Democrats unveiled the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 last Monday that would ban chokeholds and create a national police misconduct database, among other measures. Republicans and the White House are expected to announce their proposals this week.

“If we could blend those three together, we might actually save hundreds of lives and improve the relationship between the communities of color and the law enforcement community,” Scott, the sole black Republican senator, said on CBS’ "Face the Nation."

Scott said he wants more federal reporting when police use force and better de-escalation training to prevent deaths like that of Rayshard Brooks, a black man who was shot and killed by Atlanta police on Friday.

Scott said he is open to decertifying police who engage in misconduct. But he said that proposals to make officers liable in civil rights lawsuits is a “poison pill” for Republicans and police unions.

"We know that any poison pill in legislation means we get nothing done," Scott said. "That sends the wrong signal, perhaps the worst signal, right now in America."

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said Republicans are also focused on increasing police transparency through body camera use and increasing recruitment of African Americans to departments. He said he supports a national ban on chokeholds.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said he is open to compromise with Republicans. But “nobody is going to defund the police,” he said on CNN’s "State of the Union," citing that “police have a role to play.”

Clyburn, 79, said that he did not fear police while growing up in segregation but he does now. He said officials need to “reimagine policing” and restructure the judicial system, health care and education.

“All of these things have been put together in order to maintain suppression of African Americans all the way back to 1865,” Clyburn said. “We institutionalized second-class citizenship of black people during the Jim Crow era.”

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, the only black Cabinet member, said now is an “appropriate time” to examine policing, but that the administration does not want to prevent police from being able to do their jobs.

Also Sunday, Trump chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said he expects enhanced federal unemployment benefits, which have provided $600 on top of state benefits, to stop at the end of July, saying it is a “disincentive” for people to go back to work.

“I mean, we’re paying people not to work,” Kudlow said on CNN’s "State of the Union."

He said Trump is looking at measures to “provide some kind of bonus for returning to work.”

Kudlow said the United States is beginning an economic recovery and that people must continue to wear face coverings and social distance to prevent another shutdown.

When asked if people should wear face masks at a Trump rally Saturday, Kudlow said “probably.”

Republicans defended Trump’s initial decision to hold the rally in Tulsa, Okla. — where one of largest killings of blacks by whites occurred a century ago — on June 19, known as Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery, during a pandemic.

Scott said he was “thankful” Trump moved the rally “once he was informed on what Juneteenth was.” Scott said he doesn’t believe the rally planners thought about the significance of the location and date.

But Stacy Abrams, reportedly a contender as Joe Biden’s running mate, disagreed that the date was chosen unintentionally.

“This is from the administration on the fourth anniversary of the Pulse murders of the LGBTQ community stripped away health protections for that community,” Abrams said on ABC’s “This Week,” referring to the 2016 massacre at an Orlando nightclub. 

Lankford, the Oklahoman Republican, said he plans to attend the rally on Saturday, even as Tulsa’s health commissioner has raised concerns about the safety of holding a 20,000-person event with the coronavirus. Lankford said he does not think Trump needs to postpone the rally, saying that Oklahoma has fully reopened and that its cases had declined until a few days ago.

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