While both Republicans and Democrats agree that policing reforms are needed, I regret that such a consequential dialogue and monumental effort has been marked by partisanship thus far in Congress. Such partisan gridlock was clearly on display last month in both chambers. In the Senate, where it takes 60 votes to proceed on legislation, Democrats refused to provide the needed votes for consideration of the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act [S.3985], which was authored by Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Pete Stauber. This move came despite Senator Scott’s willingness to have a robust debate to work out any differences across party lines, including allowing consideration of any amendments Democrats wanted to offer and vote on. Though the House passed a police reform package last month, Republicans were completely shut out of the process of crafting and providing any real input on the bill. Unfortunately, it should come as no surprise that the resulting bill, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act [H.R.7120], was purely partisan and one I could not support. It’s also worth noting that such a partisan bill could never pass the Republican-led Senate or get signed into law by President Trump. Even in divided government, Americans deserve and expect their elected officials to work together to produce police reform legislation that upholds the constitutional rights and inherent dignity of every individual. While Republicans and Democrats have differences in opinions on some of the needed solutions, we ultimately share the same goal of making our communities safer for all, regardless of color or creed. And we aren’t as far apart as it might seem. For example, there is clear consensus on many policing reforms – such as banning choke holds, directing lynching to be a federal crime and providing a federal registry so that police officers who have committed abuses cannot be rehired. In the days ahead, I hope we can set aside our differences and work toward meaningful reforms that make our communities safer for all Americans. Refusing to engage in a bipartisan manner on such an issue of monumental reform is a disservice to Americans everywhere.
📺 Over the last few days, the House debated several pieces of legislation & took noteworthy votes on police reform & DC statehood. Unfortunately, I could not support either bill, & I explain why in my Weekly Chat. pic.twitter.com/bYMWlsmsVq— Rep. Tom Cole (@TomColeOK04) June 26, 2020
Tom Cole, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, is serving his eighth term in Congress as the elected representative of Oklahoma's 4th Congressional District. He is recognized as an advocate for taxpayers and small business, a proponent for a strong national defense and a leader in promoting biomedical research. He is considered the foremost expert in the House on issues dealing with Native Americans and tribal governments. He and his wife, Ellen, have one son, Mason, and reside in Moore, Oklahoma.
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