White House throws support behind GOP police reform bill

The White House on Wednesday threw its support behind Senate Republicans’ police reform bill, which would seek to curtail the use of chokeholds and implement new accountability measures amid national calls for systemic changes.

“The president is fully in support of the Scott bill. They are working closely on that,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters in a briefing, saying the White House backs “every element” of the legislation authored by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

“It’s a great bill,” she added. “It’s more great action from Republicans, and we hope we can have bipartisan support on that.”

McEnany singled out for praise a portion of the bill that would make lynching a federal hate crime, a measure that has been stalled in the Senate due to opposition by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

The GOP’s reform legislation was unveiled earlier Wednesday and will come to the floor next week.

Scott said the bill focuses on three areas: data collection, training and officer misconduct and transparency.

The bill would block state and local law enforcement departments from getting COPS and Byrne grants if they do not have a ban on chokeholds in place. That language aligns with an executive order signed by President Trump on Tuesday that prioritizes federal funding for police departments that have forbidden chokeholds except in cases where an officer’s life is in danger.

The Senate legislation also includes new requirements on reporting the use of force by police and the use of no-knock warrants.

The White House backing for the Senate GOP bill comes amid a national debate over racial injustice and police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was killed last month after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The House Judiciary Committee is set to hold a vote on Democrats’ own police reform bill on Wednesday.

The White House has called the Democrats’ inclusion of changes to qualified immunity for officers a non-starter, but lawmakers have expressed optimism that there are areas of overlap, including increased reporting requirements on use of force and the push to effectively ban chokeholds.

Trump has attempted to balance persistent calls for systemic change with his long-standing support for law enforcement, stressing the need to support police and attributing instances of injustice to a few bad actors.

Tags Chokehold Donald Trump Kayleigh McEnany police brutality police reform Rand Paul Tim Scott

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