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Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin quickly sought to apologize to Sen. Tim Scott after he criticized the “token” Republican-backed police reform bill which he is spearheading.
The Illinois Democrat touted his party’s legislation on the issue on the Senate floor Wednesday, but called out the measure which is being led by Scott, the lone black Republican senator, prompting the South Carolina lawmaker to later condemn the speech in his own remarks.
“Younger people are telling us: Once and for all, change it, grownups. You’re supposed to be in charge. You’re supposed to have the authority,” Durbin said in his remarks before the Senate on Wednesday.
“So what we say on the Democratic side, is, we cannot waste this historic moment, this singular opportunity. Let’s not do something that is a token, half-hearted approach. Let’s focus instead on making a change that will make a difference in the future of America,” he added.
“Let us not escape this moment in history. Let us not avoid it. Let’s face it. And let’s use it. We can make this a better nation. We can say to those young people – Black, White, and Brown – those young women and men who are leading the marches in my state and across the nation, we hear you,” Durbin said.
Scott later called out his colleague during his emotional speech in which he recounted that it was the fifth anniversary of the Charleston church shooting.
“To think that on this day as we try to make sure that fewer people lose confidence in this nation – to have the Senator from Illinois refer to this process, this bill, this opportunity to restore hope and confidence and trust from the American people, from African Americans, from communities of color – to call this a token process hurts my soul for my country, for our people,” Scott said.
Part One of today’s floor speech on the #JUSTICEAct:
Five years ago, a racist went into Emanuel AME and killed nine innocent souls.
This is a hard day.
So to call this a token process hurts my soul for my country, for our people. pic.twitter.com/hW2xFXO15B
— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) June 17, 2020
“To think that the concept of anti-lynching as a part of this legislation to be considered a token piece of legislation because perhaps I’m African American, I’m the only one on this side of the aisle, I don’t know what he meant, but I can tell you that this day, to have those comments again hurts the soul,” Scott said. “On the other side, they are wanting to race bait on tokenism.”
Republicans introduced Scott’s bill, the “Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act” o Wednesday which calls for a ban on choke-holds by police, increases penalties, mandates more transparency and makes lynching a federal crime. The measure was unveiled just one day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order on police reform.
Scott’s stinging rebuke of Durbin apparently prompted swift action on the part of the Democrat.
“The minute Sen. Durbin heard that he had offended Sen. Scott, he sought him out on the floor and apologized,” Durbin communications director Emily Hampsten said.
“What Sen. Durbin took issue with in his floor speech was not Sen. Scott’s bill, but that the Senate Majority Leader would short circuit this critical debate and fail to make the changes needed to prevent the killing of Black Americans by police officers,” Hampsten added.
“Addressing systemic racism and changing policing in America requires and deserves more than one Judiciary hearing, one floor vote, one conversation,” she said. “As Sen. Durbin stated on the floor, let’s not do a half-hearted approach. This deserves the full and bipartisan attention of the Senate.”
Scott continued his speech Wednesday calling for a united effort by lawmakers to address the issues that are agreed upon as a “blueprint” for moving forward.
“Some of my colleagues on the other side just want to score political points. The majority has the same heart that I have for the American people. That’s where we should be focusing our attention, not on the color of my skin,” he tweeted.
Part Two of today’s floor speech on the #JUSTICEAct:
Some of my colleagues on the other side just want to score political points. The majority has the same heart that I have for the American people. That’s where we should be focusing our attention, not on the color of my skin. pic.twitter.com/y0dvLQViDb
— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) June 17, 2020
Twitter users slammed the remark by Durbin but also called out the lack of outrage since the source of the comment is a Democrat.
Scratch a Democrat and you’ll find a two hundred year history of racism, mob violence and bigotry. This is no surprise. https://t.co/2tb6KnbtdN
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) June 18, 2020
A good man @SenatorTimScott steps up to try & address an important issue tearing our country apart & the first words out of some mouths is it’s a “token” & “not enough”
Do people so obsessed with winning at all costs stop to think whether there will be a country left afterwards?
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 17, 2020
If a GOP senator had labeled a bill sponsored by Kamala Harris a token, the MSM would be covering it 24/7 and calls for them to resign would be at a fevered pitch.
Dick Durbin — the second ranking Senate Democrat — just referred to @SenatorTimScott’s bill as a “token” approach, in a floor speech.
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) June 17, 2020
As it stands, Durbin got away with yet another tone deaf, insensitive remark with barely a slap on the wrist
— Linden deCarmo (@lindend) June 18, 2020
Why would he use the word “token” if he wasn’t talking about Scott’s race? Has Durbin ever referred to a White legislators bill as “token?” The answer is no.
— Political Junkie (@Sir_Politics00) June 17, 2020
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