Republican Senator Tim Scott said law enforcement reform talks collapsed because Democrats wanted to fund police.
Speaking to CBS’s Face the Nation in an interview that airs in full on Sunday, Scott said, “We just said this. “I’m not going to participate in reducing police funding after we see a big city after a big city funds the police.”
“Many provisions of this bill [Democrats] wanted me to accept limited or reduced funding for the police.
Talks began after widespread protests against police brutality and institutional racism, sparked by the murder of George Floyd by an officer in Minneapolis last year.
Some cities have adopted measures to reallocate funds to police services which many say have become too aggressive and militarized, disproportionately affecting minority communities.
The slogan “spend the police”, popular among some progressives, was used by the right in the 2020 election to portray Democrats as a threat to public order. Traditional Democratic figures, including Joe Biden, have distanced themselves from the slogan.
Scott, of South Carolina, is the only black Republican senator. The Democratic negotiators were led by Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Representative Karen Bass of California, prominent African Americans in Congress.
CBS said it had obtained a document outlining Booker’s “minimum requirements” for reform. They included practice bans, including strangulations (used in the death of Eric Garner in New York in 2014) and no-hit warrants (used in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. last year).
CBS said the document also outlined reforms departments would need to make to remain eligible for certain types of grants.
“We have about a billion dollars in grants that go to the police,” Scott said. “When you start to say, ‘To receive these dollars you have to do A, B and C. And if you don’t do a B and C you literally lose eligibility for the two main pots of money … when you say local law enforcement that you are not eligible for money is to fund the police, there is no way to run that. “
Referring to Booker, interviewer Margaret Brennan said: “So obviously that’s a big point of disagreement between you two.”
“Only if you can’t read,” Scott said.
“Are you saying Senator Booker cannot read?” Brennan asked.
Scott said: “I’m just saying if you read the legislation it’s pretty straightforward. It’s not something I’m making up, and we can debate our facts. We can actually say that in a number of different areas of the bill, it cuts funding. “
Booker did not immediately respond. He was due to give his own interviews on Sunday.
Thursday, Bass uses the Biden administration to “use the full extent of their constitutional power to bring about meaningful reform of the police.”