Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer opted to block a resolution from a GOP senator that would oppose defunding the police – despite the motion calling for “justice for George Floyd,” because it did not do anything.
The resolution, introduced Tuesday by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), called for two simple things: “justice for George Floyd” and to oppose “efforts to defund the police.”
The Arkansas Republican wrote in the motion that the murder of George Floyd, “was a horrific act that violated the public trust and was inconsistent with the values and conduct expected of law enforcement officers.”
He went on to note that “good law enforcement cannot exist without accountability and justice,” a sign of openness to discussions about police reform and accountability without discussion of defunding.
Cotton asked the Senate on Wednesday to pass the motion by unanimous consent, a move which means a single senator could block it.
In this case, it was Schumer (D-NY) who opposed Cotton’s move, arguing that the motion was nothing more than rhetoric.
“The great worry so many Americans have is that so many on the other side will feel rhetoric and then try to let this go away. We demand action, and we demand it now. Real action, not rhetoric.”
“The resolution by my friend will do nothing. Nothing. It is rhetoric,” the New York Democrat said on the Senate floor.
A resolution, as Schumer was arguing, is simply an official expression of the opinion or will of a legislative body, and does not alter laws.
Cotton went on to suggest that Schumer’s opposition to the motion showed Democratic support for defunding the police.
“We heard from the senator from New York and not a word of the resolution itself. What we’re seeing here is the Democratic leader apparently objecting on behalf of the Democratic party in defense of the radical idea that we should defund the police,” he said.
Schumer responded by stating that he too will be using unanimous consent, in his case to make the House of Representatives’ Justice in Policing Act, their police reform legislation, the top business of the Senate once it passes the lower body.
“I will be asking unanimous consent that the pending business upon receipt of H.R. 20, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, the pending business here in the Senate, after it passes the House be that bill, so we’re forced and required to debate it.
“At that point my friend from Arkansas or anyone else can do what they want, but not in an empty field of rhetoric and no action when Americans demand action. We need justice and racial equality,” he continued.
Cotton argued in response that the House bill had not yet been debated on, and certainly not voted on, and thus, the Senate should be able to address his resolution.
Protests and riots have erupted across the nation in a show of outrage against the murder of Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis late last month.
Floyd could be heard in video of the killing pleading that he could not breathe while being pinned down by since-fired Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin for over eight minutes.
In the wake of Floyd’s murder, some Democrats have called for the defunding of police departments, instead allocating those funds to social programs and investing in minority communities.
Not all Democrats have gotten on board the “defund the police” movement. The two most prominent names from the 2020 Democratic primary — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden — both oppose defunding or abolishing police departments.
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