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EDITORIAL: Senate Democrats don’t really want police reform

The next time Senate Democrats — including Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen — profess their commitment to police reform, don’t buy it. On Wednesday, they proved they’re more interested in scoring political points than in having a substantive debate on the important topic.

With the upper chamber poised to vote on a proposal by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., to address police wrongdoing, Democrats opted to filibuster to keep the matter from even coming to the floor. Their explanation was the measure didn’t go far enough and therefore wasn’t worthy of consideration. But even if their outlook in that regard is sincere, that’s no reason not to proceed with a vigorous discussion over the details and proposed details. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had offered to allow Democrats as many as 20 amendments to the proposal.

“We’re failing at politics,” Sen. Scott said. “The actual problem is not what is being offered. It is who is offering it. Took me a long time to figure out the most obvious thing in the room. It’s not the what.”

Indeed, it’s becoming clear that Democrats would prefer to use this issue as a bludgeon in their campaign to retake the Senate rather than allow a compromise bill to advance in an election year.

The Scott bill would have created a more comprehensive federal database on no-knock warrants and police interactions involving force, increased incentives for departments to ban chokeholds and made lynching a federal crime. Senate Democrats favored additional measures, such as an outright ban on chokeholds and no-knock warrants in federal drug cases, Politico reported. They also sought to limit qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that makes it more difficult to sue law enforcement officials.

Some of these Democratic proposals may indeed have merit. So why not offer amendments to put GOP senators on the record regarding qualified immunity and other reforms and potentially improve the bill by gaining Republican support for such proposals?

The answer is obvious, as Sen. Scott explained.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “sent a letter telling … leader McConnell there are five things in the legislation that needed to be improved,” Sen. Scott said during an address after Democrats had sidelined his bill. “I said, let’s give them the five amendments. I sat down with more senators and they said wait, wait, wait. There’s not just five. There’s 20. I said, how about 20 amendments? And they walked out.”

If Democrats don’t like the Scott bill, fine. But to block debate in an effort to fan partisan flames and create an election issue is, as The Wall Street Journal described it Wednesday, “cynicism squared.”

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