Senate GOP readies policing bill after Floyd death, protests

Full Screen
1 / 5

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, speaks to reporters following the weekly Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., center, and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., right, listen. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON – Venturing into a new priority, Senate Republicans are quickly compiling a package of policing changes after George Floyd's death that would create a national database of use-of-force incidents, encourage police body cameras and include a long-stalled effort to make lynching a federal hate crime.

The burst of political energy reflects how swiftly the national conversation over police and racial injustice is upturning business as usual in Washington. The emerging GOP bill doesn’t go as far as a sweeping new Democratic package, but it includes several similar provisions. What's unclear is if President Donald Trump will back any of the proposed changes.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose home state of Kentucky faces unrest over the police shooting of Breonna Taylor, indicated Thursday the legislation would be ready soon.

“The killing of black Americans like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have accelerated important conversations,” McConnell said as he opened the Senate.

The party that has long favored a “law and order” approach — seen in Trump's reaction to the nationwide demonstrations over Floyd's death — finds itself trying to adapt to a fast-changing national dialogue on police and race as the Black Lives Matter movement gains worldwide prominence.

"This is an issue whose time has come," Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the GOP's only black senator, said Thursday on the “Today” show.

A group of GOP senators led by Scott is meeting behind closed doors and with the White House on the legislation. Despite a push to produce a package this week, the deadline is slipping as details are being compiled. It is expected to be released early next week, according to a senior GOP aide unauthorized to discuss the situation and granted anonymity.

Central to the package will be a new national database of use-of-force incidents, similar to one included in the Democratic bill. It's a concept both parties support as a way to track potential police misconduct and ensure officers cannot simply transfer from one department to another without public disclosure of their records.