U.S. Senate Sen. Schumer on Police Reform Pandemic Response CSPAN June 26, 2020 5:43am-5:54am EDT
bickering. so notwithstanding all our other differences, i hope and expect this body will be able to put partisanship aside and honor the bipartisan tradition that has defined this crucial bill representatives will pass the justice in policing act, a comprehensive, strong bill to bring lasting change to police departments across america and tackle the extremely large and difficult problem of police bias -- of police violence, racial bias and the lack of transparency and accountability in law enforcement. unlike the republican policing bill, the justice in policing act will fully ban choke holds. the justice in policing act will ban no-knock warrants in federal cases, not just study them like the republican bill. and unlike the republican bill, the justice in policing act will bring sorely needed accountability to police
officers who are guilty of misconduct, including qualified immunity reform, use-of-force standards and policies to end racial profiling. my republican colleagues should look to the house today if they want to see what a serious attempt at policing reform looks like, and if they want to understand why their bill failed to earn enough votes to proceed yesterday. the republican policing reform bill failed because it wasn't a serious enough effort at reform. the legislation itself was so thread-bare, so weak and so narrow, it could hardly be considered a instructive starting -- a constructive starting point. that's why 138 civil rights organizations who want nothing more to see progress on these issues, strongly urged senators
to oppose the republican bill. that's why the leadership conference on civil rights called the bill deeply problematic and, quote, a menial, incremental approach. that's why the lawyer representing the families of george floyd and breonna taylor said he was shocked -- shocked -- that the republican bill could, quote, even be thought of as legislation. as i said the other day, i know my friend from south carolina is trying to do the right thing. but
the problem we have and the problem so many civil rights have is with the substance of the bill and with the way the republican leader, leader mcconnell, who controls the floor, set up the process the republican majority drafted a bill on its own and instead of putting it through committee where members of both parties could analyze and amend it, dropped it on the floor and
dared democrats to block it. let me be very clear. the debate on policing reform is only over for those who want it to be over. and maybe those who never truly wanted this debate in the first place. because the truth is, by the end of the day today, the house will pass the most serious policing reform bill in decades, and here in the senate, senate democrats have been clear. we want to sit down with our colleagues and try to negotiate a
bipartisan product that can go through committee and come to the floor. as i said a week ago, i know my friend from south carolina is trying to do the right thing, but leader mcconnell decided to go about this the wrong way, the partisan way. let's start over, the right way, the bipartisan way. and i have no doubt that we can arrive at legislation that, unlike the bill that failed yesterday, would bring
comprehensive and lasting change that protesters, civil rights organizations, and the families of george floyd, breonna taylor and ahmaud arbery demand. now, on covid, the covid-19 pandemic continues to spread and swell across the united states. yesterday after noon "the new york times" reported that new cases of covid-19 are now at the highest levels in the united states since the month of april. 35,000 new cases were identified on tuesday alone. the third-worst single day of the entire pandemic. hospitalization rates in arizona and texas have hit daily records, and florida is not far behind. the rise in cases, scientists warn, are not explained by the current rate of testing in this country. one of the main reasons our nation has struggled so to contain the coronavirus is
president trump's complete mismanagement of the government's response. in the early days of the virus, the president's lack of attention led to a shortage of p.p.p., ventilators, and a painfully damaging slow rampup of testing. here again, four months into the virus, as the case numbers continue to grow in so many places, the president's lack of attention is causing a national failure to overcome the covid-19 pandemic. the president's gallivanting from state to state, holding political rallies in two of the most affected areas. the president joked -- or perhaps didn't joke -- about instructing his administration to, quote, slow down the testing, please, because the number of coronavirus cases might make him look bad. can you believe that? again, the president urged the administration to slow down the
testing, please, because the number of cases might make him look bad? whether it was a joke or not, it's not a joking matter. it's serious stuff. and throughout this struggle with coronavirus, the administration at best has been late to the debate or asleep at the switch, and at worst doing things that actually harm rather than help. yesterday, there were reports that the administration will, in fact, halt federal funding for a number of community-based covid testing sites, many of which are in texas, a state that's getting hit hard. so the administration is actually preparing to slow down the testing, amazingly enough,. the lesson of so many countries, good, strong testing and contact tracing is the key, but this president seems to be blithely dancing along, going to his events, not paying attention to the crisis and doing what's necessary to get a real handle
on it. we are witnessing the highest number of new cases since april, and the trump administration's cutting funding for testing in some of the worst hot spots, a terrible decision at a terrible moment, but unfortunately not a typical -- not atypical of this administration's total ineptitude. to cap it all off today, the trump administration is filing briefs in the supreme court in an attempt to invalidate the nation's health law at a time when roughly 27 million americans have lost job-based health coverage, and their only backstop are the exchanges in the health care law, and they are proposing get rid of it. it's sort of tim to yesterday with the nomination of somebody so antivoting rights on the floor to go to the fifth circuit. just total contradiction of what they say is what they do. from the beginning, the president has down played the severity of the disease, spread misinformation about how to stay
safe, and put his political interests, his desire for credit and avoidance of blame above the medical needs and safety of the american people. as a result, president trump has helped put america first in the number of covid-19 cases in the world. and unfortunately, madam president, the situation's not much better in the senate. it has been two months since the passage of the last covid relief legislation. democrats had hoped to continue the bipartisan work that produces the cares act in april, may, and now june to no avail. the house passed the heroes act over a month ago, which includes hazard pay, housing assistance, unemployment insurance extended and aid to state and local governments. but as the pandemic continued to spread and unemployment skyrocketed, senate republicans have said they feel no urgency to act immediately.
more than 40 million unemployment claims, another 1.5 million this week alone, and still leader mcconnell, the republican senate, doesn't feel an urgency to act? leader mcconnell originally said that another emergency relief bill was likely during june. now he's saying late july. a few days ago, the republican leader said that, quote, if there is something that's going to happen, it will emerge in the senate, it will be written beginning in my office. once again, leader mcconnell seems to prefer partisan pronouncements to bipartisan legislating. that's the same failed approach that delayed the cares act two months ago and failed yesterday on policing reform. it will only delay another emergency relief bill, and such delays will be measured in hospital beds, deserted storefronts, pink slips. and one other point. the lack of oversight.
g.a.o. this morning announced that $1.4 billion of relief checks were sent to people who were dead. where's the oversight? this is a $3 trillion package. and every small bit of oversight that the republicans have done have had to be pushed by democrats. we should be having far more pro bus oversight over what has happened as well as moving forward on a new bill. democrats are not going to wait until july to bring some attention to covid-related issues. next week, on the floor, we'll ask our colleagues to take up some important legislation on housing and rental assistance, hazard pay for essential workers, small business relief, funding to help schools open safely, and aid to state, local, and tribal governments. with cases rising in more than 20 states, with emergency unemployment insurance for american families set to expire, we cannot wait another month to act.the presiding officer: the senator shall be