Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sought to clear a procedural hurdle Wednesday so he could bring the bill to the floor for Senate consideration. But the legislation fell short of the 60 votes it needed to advance.
Fifty-five senators — mostly Republicans — backed the effort to advance the bill, while 45 senators — mostly Democrats — opposed it.
Nevada Democratic Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto opposed moving the bill forward. Cortez Masto last week mostly panned what she called the GOP’s “watered down” reform bill, but hadn’t committed to opposing it.
Explaining her vote not to allow the bill to proceed to debate Wednesday, Cortez Masto said the Senate “should be reviewing every legislative solution, under the guidance of the Judiciary Committee, and bring a bipartisan proposal to the floor.”
Her statement mirrored that of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Calling the Senate Republican bill “weak tea,” Schumer offered McConnell a suggestion: Appoint a bipartisan group of senators to begin crafting a bill together and send it to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration before bringing it to the floor — a process he said that could take a few weeks.
“All is not lost,” Schumer said.
Sen. Tim Scott, a Black Republican from South Carolina, unveiled the Senate GOP bill last week in response to massive civil unrest over police brutality against people of color.
The bill would give police departments incentives to ban chokeholds, increase the use of body cameras, improve training in de-escalation tactics and require that prior performance records be taken into greater account when making hiring decisions.
It would also increase data collection on the use of force, weapon discharge and no-knock warrants, among other things.
Unlike a Democratic police reform bill pending in the U.S. House, the GOP bill would not ban chokeholds or no-knock warrants at the federal level or make it easier for victims of police brutality to sue officers and seek damages.
Nor would it bar racial and religious profiling or limit the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement officials.
There is some overlap between the Democratic and Republican proposals, including a provision that would make lynching a federal crime, according to The Hill.
The House is expected to vote later this week on the Democratic bill. More than 218 other lawmakers have signed on to the bill, virtually ensuring its passage through the chamber.
President Donald Trump has said he would support congressional action on police reform. But it’s unclear how Senate Republicans will respond if the House passes the Democratic bill.