The top Democrat in the Senate on June 10 blocked a resolution that explicitly supported justice for George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died in police custody, while opposing cuts to police funding.
The resolution was introduced by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Cotton attempted to pass the measure by unanimous consent, meaning just one senator could register an objection to block it.
Cotton said on the Senate floor that he was glad to see the police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest were fired and charged, saying “justice appears to be swiftly in this case.”
While he supports efforts to make sure every American is treated equally, Cotton said he opposes “efforts to demonize all police for the actions of the few” and “radical proposals to dismantle the police departments.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) objected, telling colleagues that millions of people are “marching in the streets to reform our police practices” and demanding action.
“The resolution is rhetoric and not action. And the worry that so many Americans have is that so many on the other side will feel rhetoric and then try to let this go away. We demand action and we demand it now,” he said.
Cotton responded that Schumer didn’t appear to object to anything in the resolution itself in his speech. The resolution “calls for justice for George Floyd and other victims of excessive force, and also says the Senate opposes radical ideas to oppose or defund the police.” Democrats received the resolution on June 9, according to Cotton, and gave no sign they were going to object.
Challenged to point out what part of the text he opposed, Schumer declined, repeating his view of concerns that, if the resolution passed, Republicans would become content.
Schumer then asked for unanimous consent that all other Senate business be put aside the minute the House passes legislation that features proposals for reforming law enforcement across the nation.
Cotton blocked Schumer’s motion, saying he was “mystified” by Schumer’s opposition and subsequent resolution.
The House legislation hasn’t been passed by that body, Cotton noted, adding later: “What we’re seeing here is the Democratic leader apparently objecting on behalf of they Democratic party in defense of the radical idea that we should they defund the police.”
After responding briefly, Schumer left the floor.
Some Democrats have come out in opposition to calls to defund the police, or cut funding from police departments, including Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Republicans, meanwhile, selected Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), one of three black senators, to lead the GOP effort to craft police reform legislation.
Trump is considering issuing an executive order on the issue, the White House stated on June 10 after the president met with Scott and others.