WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Tuesday that Senate Republicans are “trying to get away with murder” with their policing bill.
Specifically, Pelosi, during a interview with CBS News Radio, said the GOP’s legislation does not include a federal and definitive ban on chokeholds as many activists have demanded, but rather says the police tactic should be used only if lives are in danger.
“We’re saying no chokeholds,” Pelosi said, talking about the Democrat’s legislation. “They’re not saying no chokeholds. I mean, there’s a big difference there. What’s the compromise? Some chokeholds? I don’t see what the compromise is.”
The Republican’s bill, led by Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina – the chamber’s lone Black Republican – includes measures aimed at increasing transparency at police agencies and around use-of-force incidents while incentivizing departments to use body cameras and discouraging chokeholds by withholding federal grant money.
Pelosi echoed many congressional Democrats, who been are reportedly planning to block the GOP’s bill.
“For something to happen,” she said, “they’re going to have to face the reality of police brutality, the reality of the need for justice in policing, and the recognition that there are many, many good people in law enforcement, but not all and that we have to address those concerns.
“So far they’re trying to get away with murder, actually. The murder of George Floyd,” she said.
Her comments met with swift backlash from Republicans, who called for her to apologize, specifically to Scott, though she didn’t name him by name.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., tweeted that the comments were “absolutely disgusting” and that Scott “is an incredibly effective policymaker and leader on racial justice and policing reform. America is blessed to have him in the United States Senate.”
Pelosi “should immediately apologize for this hateful statement,” Stefanik continued.
Matt Whitlock, senior adviser to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the comments were “absolutely outrageous. If a Republican said something like that every other Republican would be asked if they were comfortable with that characterization.”
Ken Farnaso, the deputy press secretary for the Trump campaign, called for Pelosi to “say it to @SenatorTimmScott’s face.” Farnaso used to work as press secretary for Scott.
The Speaker of the House is an insufferable race baiting poltician who would much rather see no action done than allow change to happen under @realDonaldTrump’s leadership. She accused Republicans for “trying to get away with murder…” Say it to @SenatorTimScott’s face, Nancy. https://t.co/YvOVRXoqIk
— Ken Farnaso (@KLF) June 23, 2020
Elizabeth Harrington, the GOP National Spokesperson, called it “disgusting.”
“Nancy Pelosi needs to immediately apologize to Republicans for her deplorable accusations,” said National Republican Campaign Committee spokesman Michael McAdams in a statement.
Sen. Kelley Loeffler, R-Ga., called the comments “revolting” and tweeted at Pelosi, “Shame on you & shame on the Democrats enabling you.”
USA TODAY has reached out to Scott’s office for comment.
Drew Hammil, deputy chief of staff for Pelosi, defended the speaker, saying Pelosi didn’t single out Scott, and “said ‘Republicans’ — if there’s any one Republican she’s talking about it’s the self-proclaimed Grim Reaper @senatemajldr,” a reference to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
He continued that he “Didn’t hear any GOP outrage when his #3 in leadership” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Democrats “put their bill in a ‘chokehold.'”
“Only a chokehold BAN would have saved George Floyd. We need the #JusticeInPolicing Act,” he concluded.
The House bill, which was led by the Congressional Black Caucus, not only would end qualified immunity but also aims to bolster police accountability and end the practice of officers with problematic records moving from one department to another by creating a national registry. It would end certain police practices, such as the use of no-knock warrants and chokeholds.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote a letter to McConnell saying that the Senate bill was not “salvageable” ahead of the planned procedural vote on Wednesday. At least seven Democrats need to join the Republicans to advance their measure.
“We will not meet this moment by holding a floor vote on the JUSTICE Act, nor can we simply amend this bill, which is so threadbare and lacking in substance that it does not even provide a proper baseline for negotiations. This bill is not salvageable and we need bipartisan talks to get to a constructive starting point,” Schumer said.
Schumer also blasted Barrasso for his chokehold reference, tweeting that they “aren’t a joking matter.”
“The fact that they’re joking about chokeholds instead of actually banning them shows that the Republicans never took this seriously.”
The House is planning to vote on their bill Thursday. However, McConnell has stated it won’t advance in the Senate as it is too overreaching.
Discussion regarding chokeholds and the need for police reform was sparked after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody after a white officer pinned him to the ground under his knee.
Contributing: Christal Hayes
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pelosi on GOP policing bill: They’re ‘trying to get away with murder’