Coastal Georgia’s delegation to Congress say politics more than meaningful solutions are driving police reform efforts in the U.S. House and Senate.
U.S. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., is steamed up over the Democrats blockage of the JUSTICE Act, an acronym for Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere, which she helped sponsor.
“When the moment for action and debate on police reform opened up, Senate Democrats slammed the door shut,” Loeffler said. “They’ve demonized our good faith efforts by calling Republicans ‘murderers’ and demeaned the critical roles of our brave men and woman in law enforcement. Instead of working to improve training, accountability, resources and trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, Democrats chose politics over the needs of the American people.”
Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue, R-GA, say Democrats could have at least been open to discussing the measure.
Fifty-five senators — mostly Republicans — backed the effort to advance the bill; 45 senators — mostly Democrats — opposed it.
Among other things, the act called for more funding and training for police. It included proposals for improving relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
“It’s shocking that, at this moment, my Democratic colleagues refuse to come to the table to discuss the common sense changes that can improve policing in our country,” she said. “If we really want to honor the lives of George Floyd and others who have faced injustice, Senate Democrats should have allowed debate on the JUSTICE Act.”
Perdue unsuccessfully pleaded for debate of the measure on the floor of the Senate last week.
“All we’re pleading for today is a motion to proceed to allow the JUSTICE Act to go on the floor and be fully debated,” Perdue said. “It is a starting point for debate and true compromise. Isn’t that what our job is? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?”
Democrats critical of the Republican measure said it would not protect black Americans.
In the House, Rep. Buddy Carter, whose first district includes Glynn and surrounding counties, spoke against the reform bill unveiled by Democrats, deriding it as partisan.
“We’ve seen calls to defund the police and dismantle police departments across the United States,” Carter said, speaking from the floor of the House last week. “We all know that can only lead to bad outcomes. We all know that the police are there to protect and to serve. Yes, we all know that there are bad policemen out there.
“We all know they’re bad actors in every profession and we know that they need to be weeded out. We need to do that and we also know that those bad policemen are as offensive to the good policemen as they are to anyone. No one wants to see them weeded out more than the good policemen want to see them weeded out.”
Carter, describing the situation as an American problem in need of a an American solution, said the legislation created exclusively by Democrats in the House fails to address the issue.
“This a partisan bill with no Republican involvement whatsoever,” Carter said. “This bill also doesn’t take appropriate steps to ensure that law enforcement officers are working to improve their relations with the community, the community that they serve and protect.”
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, named after George Floyd, the unarmed black man whose death in police custody in Minneapolis last month ignited protests around the globe, would make police officers responsible for damages awarded in lawsuits, among other things.
Arguments posed by Carter and others proved futile. The police justice reform act introduced by Democrats passed in the House 236-181 but faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate.
President Donald Trump also has promised to veto the bill.