Congresswoman Karen Bass has served six terms as the representative for California’s 37 Congressional District.
As she winds down her federal service and prepares to run for mayor of Los Angeles, the former Congressional Black Caucus Chair didn’t mince words in her mission to set the record straight on the breakdown in talks over the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
A member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, Congresswoman Bass joined Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) in leading negotiations on legislation that most believed would transform policing in America – particularly how law enforcement interact with people of color.
Following the failed negotiations, Sen. Scott reached into his Trump-like Republican bag of misinformation and fake news by telling national news outlets that talks broke off because Democrats wanted to defund the police.
With receipts in hand, Congresswoman Bass exposed Sen. Scott’s rhetoric as disingenuous at best, lies at worst.
“At one point, Sen. Scott told Sen. Booker that if he could get the police on board, we would have an agreement on [the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act],” Congresswoman Bass said.
The congresswoman spoke exclusively to a large group of publishers and journalists from the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), representing the Black Press of America.
“Sen. Booker negotiated a deal with the Fraternal Order of Police [the world’s largest organizations of sworn law enforcement officers], and when he brought that deal to Sen. Scott, it somehow leaked to the press,” Congresswoman Bass explained.
She noted that when the deal leaked, the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), a coalition of police unions and associations from across the United States, unfairly attacked Sen. Booker.
Congresswoman Bass then produced a NAPO-issued news release that featured claims that Sen. Booker sought to make law enforcement more dangerous and difficult for officers.
In the release, NAPO claimed Sen. Booker’s deal would “exacerbate the already dire recruitment and retention issues facing state and local agencies.”
NAPO’s objections aside, Sen. Booker had completed the task asked by Sen. Scott, who reneged on his promise of guaranteeing the 10 Senate Republican votes needed to pass the legislation.
“Sen. Scott said he didn’t believe he could take the deal Sen. Booker struck to other police organizations that he was most concerned about in South Carolina,” Congresswoman Bass revealed.
Ultimately, the California Democrat said there wasn’t anywhere else to take the negotiations.
That’s when Sen. Scott decided to further muddy the waters with misinformation.
“Unfortunately, we saw Sen. Scott go out and say we support defunding the police. The reason he said that was that we were conditioning grants to the police on reforms which is standard for grants,” Congresswoman Bass explained.
“This was done in Trump’s executive order, and even proposed by Sen. Scott,” she declared, reminding everyone that Sen. Scott proposed the same thing in 2020.
During a PBS interview in June 2020, shortly after the murder of George Floyd, Sen. Scott offered a proposal.
He said the nation’s police departments would have to follow basic federal standards on some practices, like banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants, or they would lose federal funding.
“My legislation gets us to the position where, if you are in a law enforcement department that does not already have a ban on chokeholds, you do not have access to the federal funding,” Sen. Scott said during the PBS interview.
“I thought we had momentum,” Congresswoman Bass insisted. “I thought there was an opportunity where we might reach a compromise. It’s very important that we not allow the narrative that’s out there.”
Congresswoman Bass concluded:
“Defund the police is like critical race theory – systemic racism and transforming police to defunding the police. We must expose this to our people. I worry that the three Black people responsible for the negotiations promised folks when we asked them for their vote. We promised them police reform, voting rights, and a social safety net in terms of reconciliation. I worry in terms of what we’ve delivered.”