Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who has been leading the Republican effort on bipartisan police reform talks was grilled on Sunday over why a deal has not be reached and Scott wasted little time pointing to Democrats.
Appearing on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Scott first saw the finger pointed at him when host Margaret Brennan began, “This country was supposed to be at a moment of reckoning at the relationship between police and the black community. Why did you miss the moment?”
“I’m not sure why they missed the moment,” he replied, without missing a beat. “I have been at this table twice already. They’ve walked away twice. They did this a year ago and they’re doing it again now.”
“We should ask ourselves how did we get here at all? It’s the big blue cities where they have failed to pass policies that protect their most vulnerable communities,” Scott added. “Think about Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Portland, Seattle. This problem came to the federal government because of the failure of blue mayors and liberal city council members for us to get here.”
Brennan noted that police reform started under the Trump administration and continued under the Biden administration, saying: “With Republicans in control, it went nowhere. Democrats in control, it’s going nowhere.”
(Video: CBS News)
“But both times, the person– the folks that left the table were the Democrats,” Scott said. “Let’s just be clear that we have stayed at the table. We said simply this: I am not going to participate in reducing funding for the police after we saw major city after major city defund the police. Many provisions in this bill that he wanted me to agree to limited or reduced funding for the police. That’s a lose-lose proposition.”
The CBS anchor countered to say there was a funding increase in terms of additional mental health funding and other things, stressing “that’s not cutting funding. It might be allocating it in different ways.”
Scott noted that the funding was linked to compliance to certain requirements, leaving non-compliant departments out — which Brennan characterized as “underperformance.”
There was a back and forth on issues at the center of the impasse, with Scott saying, “What the Democrats asked for was a simple thing. They asked for more reporting on serious bodily injury to death. I said that’s a great idea. When they wanted to nationalize local policing, I said, that’s a bad idea.”
Brennan pressed Scott on whether the GOP failing to reach a deal was based on “not wanting to look like they are being soft on crime ahead of the 2020 races,” which he disputed.
The GOP senator clarified the issue of defunding the police, saying: “There were eight or nine parts of the bill where the answer the Democrats put on the table was reducing the funding to the police.”
Though she didn’t delve into any possible reasons Democrats may be at fault for not reaching an agreement, she did put forth the argument from Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who is leading the Democratic effort, about there being an increase in funding — providing police departments agree to national reporting.
“All you have to do is actually read the areas of the bill that actually reduce the funding…that’s available,” Scott answered.
“So, obviously, that’s a big point of disagreement between the two of you and the interpretation,” Brennan said, prompting Scott to reply. “Only if you can’t read.”
“You’re saying Senator Booker can’t read?” she shot back.
“I’m only saying that if you read the legislation, it’s pretty simple,” Scott concluded. “This is not something that I’m making up and we can debate our facts. We can actually say, in several different areas of the bill, it reduces funding.”
Meanwhile, over at Fox News, former South Carolina congressman and network contributor Trey Gowdy offered a little clarity on “Sunday Night in America,” while slamming Democrats for walking away from bipartisan police reform negotiations, as they abruptly did last week.
“The murder rate in this country increased last year in historic numbers, and this year is not looking much better,” Gowdy said. “But some on the left decided that rising violent crime rates and historically high murder rates make the perfect time to defund the police.”
(Video: Fox News)
At the same time, Gowdy praised his friend, Sen. Scott, whom he said “experienced the good and the bad from law enforcement in ways many of us never will.”
“He remains committed to a justice system that is worthy of our highest expectations,” he explained. “For the better part of the past two years, Senator Scott has been trying to perfect our justice system. Last summer, he was left alone at the bargaining table by Kamala Harris, who decided her ambition was more important than perfecting our justice system.”
“Now Tim Scott is left again, abandoned,” Gowdy continued. “The media, of course, will blame the Republicans. They are only useful to the D.C. media when they agree with Democrats. No criticism for Kamala Harris or other Democrats who walked away. Instead, the media saved this condemnation for Tim Scott. I want you to imagine in the quietness of your own mind, a black Republican from the deep south, his own life informed and instructed by interactions with police, willing to take on a difficult but essential top topic, sitting alone at the negotiating table.
“There is no political upside for Tim Scott. Criminal justice reform is not a burning issue on the right. It is not the path for electoral success for Republicans.”
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