McConnell facing pressure to vote on police reform bill before July 4 recess

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing pressure to not hold off voting on a police reform bill before senators leave for the July 4 recess, but whether that will happen remains unclear.

The legislation is expected to be introduced on Wednesday by a group of GOP senators led by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), leaving the upper chamber of Congress with over two weeks to debate — and try to pass — the bill.

Scott does not want the Senate to sit on the legislation, as he told Politico in a phone interview on Monday.

“Without the bill becoming law — whether it’s my bill or some other version of some other bill — then we’ve kind of failed the moment. Us waiting a month before we vote is a bad decision. So I hope we are willing to take up legislation and just get on the record. If it fails, it fails,” the GOP’s sole black senator said.

Democrats have also turned up the pressure on McConnell, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) leading the charge.

Speaking from the Senate floor late last week, Schumer called on McConnell to schedule votes for police reform legislation and another coronavirus relief bill, arguing the lawmakers had time to handle both.

“There is no reason that we cannot respond to this moment of national crisis with vigorous and sustained action, with purposeful action and bipartisan effort on the COVID pandemic and long-simmering issues of police violence and racial justice. We must do both,” he said.

As for whether bringing a police reform bill to a vote would be feasible before the summer recess, GOP leadership closest to McConnell have expressed doubt.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told The Hill Monday when asked if McConnell wanted to vote before the break, “I think he, if everything can be pulled together, yeah. I think there’s a sense that there’s a lot of work that’s been put into this and it would be nice to get it up and get it voted on.”

Sen. Tim Scott
Sen. Tim ScottAFP via Getty Images

The South Dakota Republican went on to say that scheduling was not “concrete” on the matter, but that McConnell “recognizes Tim Scott’s done a lot of work,” and that Scott will receive “a lot of support for the work that he’s done.”

Earlier in the evening though, Thune told reporters that it was “probably unlikely” that the bill would be brought to the floor before the July 4 recess, arguing that he would be “surprised” if the bill passed before due to “what we have to do and the fact that it’s not ready yet.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), another member of Senate GOP leadership, made a similar assumption.

“If we rush this, what we’ll wind up with is a couple of side-by-side votes, neither of which pass. So I don’t think there’s a likelihood of a successful conclusion of any legislation between now and July 4. And because of that, I don’t think a vote would serve a real purpose,” he said, going against Scott’s argument in favor of not waiting.

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