June 23, 2020

Harris: Republicans Playing Politics To Derail the Justice in Policing Act

Full Video of Harris’ Remarks

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Tuesday joined Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in condemning Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for moving forward with Republicans’ hollow policing bill, saying the bill obstructs the ability to make real change. Harris pointed to the fact that Senate Republicans failed to even discuss or consider Harris’ legislation— the Justice in Policing Act.

Key Excerpts:

  • We have it in our power to actually do something. There is an opportunity in this moment for the elected leaders in this, the so called most deliberative body in the world, to actually do something. But instead, the majority leader would have us play political games, with the hopes, the dreams, and the demands of the American people. This is yet again an obstructionist tactic that is meant to distract us from the work, the hard work - there's no doubt - hard work that must be done.
  • The Justice in Policing Act addresses that very specific concern with a very detailed response that is well thought out and frankly, the product of work that has been happening in the space for years and years. And so on June 9th in response to the people on the streets demanding this kind of work, we offered the Justice in Policing Act and over a week later, a week later, how many thousands of people have been marching in that interim period of time, over a week later, the Republicans offer their bill, which does not adopt or take into account any of the bones, any of the detail, any of the substance of what had already been offered.
  • One might ask, why would they do that over a week later, after there's already been something proposed? Well, because they didn't want to deal with the hard realities of what we discussed in our bill. They didn't want to deal with the difficult process that would be required for people to have the courage to speak about the long-standing discrimination and abuses that have taken place that must be corrected. So, they offer instead a distraction, that is a distraction with the intention of obstructing meaningful change.
  • In this case, sadly, it is the Democrats, not with any of our Republican colleagues, at least so far, who are doing the real work of engaging in what must be reform of this system so that we can get just a little step closer to that ideal of equal justice under the law.

A full transcript of Harris’ remarks can be found below:

HARRIS: So why are we here? We're here because Mitch McConnell has put up a bill challenging us to either comply with his political game that is about obstructing the United States Senate's ability to actually do something or to play a game with him, which is only about covering his political concerns, and not about the real concerns that the American people have about the realities of two systems of justice in America.

And we're not gonna play that game. And we're not gonna be played.

The truth as we know it is that people by the thousands are marching in the streets of America of every race, every age, and gender, in every geographic location in all the 50 states unified, demanding we act, demanding that finally something is actually done.

And we have it in our power to actually do something. There is an opportunity in this moment for the elected leaders in this, the so called most deliberative body in the world, to actually do something. But instead, the majority leader would have us play political games, with the hopes, the dreams, and the demands of the American people. This is yet again an obstructionist tactic that is meant to distract us from the work, the hard work - there's no doubt - hard work that must be done.

The Justice in Policing Act has received a profound amount of support in the House and here in the Senate. It is very detailed in what it provides in terms of a solution to a problem that no one can deny, which is that for far too long, we have not required the system to be held accountable and face consequence when it fails the American people.

For far too long in the criminal justice system, we've only talked about accountability and consequences when it relates to the people who are arrested, without asking that question of the very system itself, and the people who work within that system.

The Justice in Policing Act addresses that very specific concern with a very detailed response that is well thought out and frankly, the product of work that has been happening in the space for years and years. And so on June 9th in response to the people on the streets demanding this kind of work, we offered the Justice in Policing Act and over a week later, a week later, how many thousands of people have been marching in that interim period of time, over a week later, the Republicans offer their bill, which does not adopt or take into account any of the bones, any of the detail, any of the substance of what had already been offered.

One might ask, why would they do that over a week later, after there's already been something proposed? Well, because they didn't want to deal with the hard realities of what we discussed in our bill. They didn't want to deal with the difficult process that would be required for people to have the courage to speak about the long-standing discrimination and abuses that have taken place that must be corrected. So, they offer instead a distraction, that is a distraction with the intention of obstructing meaningful change.

And so, I said it earlier today, but I for one do not intend to be played. And I do not intend to be a part of a discussion, where some might suggest Democrats are trying to stand in the way of police reform, because ask any member of those civil rights groups that have been working on this for generations, and they'll tell you the truth about that.

In this case, sadly, it is the Democrats, not with any of our Republican colleagues, at least so far, who are doing the real work of engaging in what must be reform of this system so that we can get just a little step closer to that ideal of equal justice under the law.

So, thank you.

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