House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in a radio interview Tuesday evening asserted that Senate Republicans are “trying to get away with the murder of George Floyd” with their version of the police reform bill.
“In other words, for something to happen, they’re going to have to face the reality of police brutality, the rallies 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,” Pelosi said in an interview with CBS Radio. “So, when they admit that and have some suggestions that are worthy of consideration, but so far they were trying to get away with murder, actually, the murder of George Floyd.”
Pelosi pointed to the difference both parties have on the issue of chokeholds, emphasizing how the GOP bill incentivizes police departments to ban the use of chokeholds as opposed to the House proposed bill that would federally outright ban chokeholds.
“Well, would you be the judge of. We’re saying no chokeholds, they’re saying maybe, 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 press has given them so much play for this unsalvageable piece of legislation and then say, ‘well, can’t you compromise with that?’ No, it’s because it is ‘no’ and we are ‘yes’, it isn’t ‘maybe.’”
CBS News Radio correspondent Steve Futterman didn’t challenge Pelosi’s remark, quickly switching the topic to ask the House Speaker about the nationwide “Defund the Police” movement.
The House Speaker continuously touted the Democrats’ bill during the interview, saying it will “make a difference,” while criticizing the GOP policing proposal as “unsalvageable.”
“What the Senate did as per said by Senators Schumer, Booker and Harris is unsalvageable,” Pelosi said. “It’s a use of words but it doesn’t take action, so it doesn’t make any difference. It’s unfortunate. They’re just going have to up their ante in terms of their sincerity and trying to make a change to get a job done.”
“What we have put together in the House of Representatives will make a difference, make a difference injustice in policing, make a difference in reducing brutality in terms of interactions with police in minority communities especially,” she added. “We are very proud of the work we did, that we have done and that will pass on Thursday in the House of Representatives.”
The JUSTICE Act, spearheaded by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), the GOP lone Black Senator is scheduled for a provisional vote on Wednesday. It includes incentive measures for police departments to ban the use of chokeholds by tying funding to whether departments have prohibited the practice “except when deadly force is authorized.”
Congressional Democrats offered their own police reform package a week before Scott unveiled his version and both bills have several areas of overlap. However, both parties disagree over issues of chokeholds, no-knock warrants in drug cases, and “qualified immunity,” a legal mechanism that protects police from being sued if accused of misconduct.
Senate Democrats earlier on Tuesday signaled that they will oppose the GOP police reform bill. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the bill “not salvageable” and demanded Republicans to have a “bipartisan talks” to negotiate a more expansive bill that both parties could support.
“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 in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Bringing the JUSTICE Act to the floor of the Senate is a woefully inadequate response, and we urge you to bring meaningful legislation to the floor for a vote.”
The remarks from Pelosi was met with swift backlash from Republicans, who called for her to apologize. The National Republican Campaign Committee condemned the remarks and asked for an apology.
“Nancy Pelosi needs to immediately apologize to Republicans for her deplorable accusations,” NRCC Spokesman Michael McAdams said in a statement.
Pelosi’s Deputy Chief of Staff defended her remarks on Twitter, claiming that the House Speaker was referring primarily to “self-proclaimed Grim Reaper” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.