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US Senators Propose Police Reforms

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., center, accompanied by Senate Republicans, speaks at a news conference to announce a Republican police reform bill on Capitol Hill, June 17, 2020, in Washington.
U.S. Senators Propose Police Reforms
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Republican Party members of the United States Senate have proposed legislation to change police procedures and accountability.

The proposal is called the “Justice Act.” It is the broadest policing proposal from Republicans in years. It was announced on Wednesday, a day after President Donald Trump signed an order of police reforms in a ceremony at the White House.

Both actions follow weeks of public protest over the death of George Floyd during an arrest by police on May 25th in Minnesota. Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the unarmed black man’s neck for almost nine minutes as Floyd called out repeatedly, “I can’t breathe,” and, later said, "I'm about to die."

The Senate proposal includes expansion of the use-of-force database and restrictions on the use of chokeholds. It also would create groups to study law enforcement and race.

Tim Scott of South Carolina led the Senate Republican team that developed the legislation. He said lawmakers will move quickly to enter the proposal for debate next week.

Scott, who is black, spoke of his own experiences being stopped by police — including once this year.

“We hear you,” Scott said, speaking about families of those killed by police. He added that the Justice Act “speaks very clearly to the young person” and his concern “when he is stopped by law enforcement officers.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Senate Democrats to support the Justice Act. He said the United States is not a racist country but, in his words, “the stain” of slavery and the Civil War remains.

The leader of the Democratic minority in the senate, Chuck Schumer immediately criticized the legislation. He said that the bill would not do enough. And he said the measure provides less police accountability than the reform proposed by Democrats in the House of Representatives.

The House Judiciary Committee is currently considering that proposal. The full House is expected to vote on it next week.

The Republican legislation would strengthen rules that require police to gather use-of-force reports. It also would make lynching a federal hate crime, a move sought by Democratic Party lawmakers.

The proposal calls for an end to the use of chokeholds but would not require states to ban them.

I’m Caty Weaver.

The Associated Press reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

procedure -n. a series of actions that are done in a certain way or order : an established or accepted way of doing something​

accountability -n. an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions​

chokehold -n. a method of holding someone by putting pressure on the person's neck to make breathing difficult or impossible​

stain -n. something that causes people to have less respect for someone​

lynch -v. to kill (someone) illegally as punishment for a crime​

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