Jun 8, 2020
Congressional Democrats Unveil Police Reform Bill in Press Conference
After over a week of protests for the killing of George Floyd, Congressional Democrats released a sweeping police reform bill. The bill would make it easier for victims of abuses to recover damages, create a national registry of police misconduct, ban chokeholds, ban no-knock warrants in drug cases, and more. Read all the details in their press conference transcript here.
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Karen Bass: (03:32)
Good morning, everyone.
Karen Bass: (03:35)
The Justice and Policing Act establishes a bold, transformative vision of policing in America. Never again should the world be subjected to witnessing what we saw on the streets in Minneapolis, the slow murder of an individual by a uniformed police officer. The world is witnessing the birth of a new movement in our country. This movement has now spread to many nations around the world, with thousands marching to register their horror and hearing the cry, “I can’t breathe.” People marching to demand not just change, but transformative change that ends police brutality, that ends racial profiling, and ends the practice of denying Americans the right to have the ability to sue when they have been injured by an officer, that denies local jurisdictions the power to fire or prosecute offending officers.
Karen Bass: (04:24)
Black communities have sadly been marching for over 100 years against police abuse, but for the police to protect and serve our communities like they do elsewhere. In the 1950s, news cameras exposed the brutal horror of legalized racism in the form of segregation. The news cameras of the 1950s exposed the brutal treatment of people who dared to challenge the system. News cameras exposed to the world that black people did not have the same constitutional protections, that freedom of speech, the right to assemble, and protest were not rights extended to African-Americans. 70 years later, it is the cell phone camera that has exposed the continuation of violence directed at African-Americans by the police, and exposed the reality that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not guaranteed to all African-Americans at all times. Now the movement for police accountability has become a rainbow movement, reflecting the wonderful diversity of our nation in the world. The power of this movement will help move Congress to act, to pass legislation that not only holds police accountable and increases transparency, but assists police departments to change the culture.
Karen Bass: (05:38)
Now, I know that change is difficult, but I am certain that police officers, professionals who risk their lives every day, are deeply concerned about their profession and do not want to work in an environment that requires their silence when they know a fellow officer’s abusing the public. I am certain police officers would like to be free to intervene and stop an officer from using deadly force when it is not necessary. And I am certain that police officers want to make sure they are trained in the best practices in policing. A profession where you have the power to kill should be a profession that requires highly trained officers who are accountable to the public. Embarking on a journey toward a new vision for policing in America is only possible because of the incredible leadership in the House of Representatives. We now have over 200 co- sponsors in the House and the Senate. Speaker Pelosi has said she wants to see a bold transformative effort. And that is exactly what Justice and Policing will do. Join me in welcoming the most powerful woman in Congress and the nation, Madam Speaker Pelosi.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:48)
Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Karen Bass, for your tremendous leadership. Under the leadership of Karen Bass, many of us had the privilege last year of going to Ghana to observe the 400th anniversary of the first slaves going across the Atlantic, America really, there was no United States, but going across the Atlantic. It was a horrible … The kidnapping, the purchase of those slaves, the dungeons in which they were kept. And if they survived that, to be on a slave ship. And if they survived that, to be sold into slavery. And then everything that came from that. When we were in Selma only just in March, we saw at Bryan Stevenson’s, one of his museums, a beautiful display, heartbreaking display. But children, little children saying, “Mama? Mama? Has anyone seen our mother?” These children separated from their mothers, the cruelty of that. And that’s why when George Floyd called out for his mother when he was subjected to that knee in the neck, it was just a continuation of some horror that has existed in our country for a very long time.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:12)
This is Mr. Clyburn, Mr. Hoyer, distinguished leader. Mr. Clyburn, our whip, joined Karen Bass, Leader Schumer, the two senators, leaders on this issue. Congresswoman Harris, Congressman, Senator, did I say Senator? Senator Harris, Senator Booker in the Emancipation Hall, aptly named for those who built the capital of the United States in their honor. We were there for eight minutes and 46 seconds on our knees. My members will attest, it’s a very long time. It’s a very long time. And I graciously led them in falling over when it was over so that they could do the same thing. But here we are. The martyrdom of George Floyd gave American experience a moment of national anguish as we grieve for the black Americans killed by police brutality. Today, this moment of national anguish is being transformed into a movement of national action as Americans from across the country peacefully protest to demand an end to injustice. Today, with the Justice and Policing Act, the Congress is standing with those fighting for justice and taking action.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:37)
Let us, my colleagues, just go over some of those names of martyrdom. George Floyd, Jackson Davis, Oscar Grant. So sad. Breonna Taylor, Ahmoud Arbery, Botham Jean, Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin. My colleagues, any other names you want to add?
Speaker 2: (10:05)
Speaker 3: (10:05)
Nancy Pelosi: (10:12)
Thank you. We cannot settle for anything less than transformative structural change, which is why the Justice and Policing Act will remove barriers of prosecuting police misconduct and covering damages by addressing the quality immunity doctrine. It will demilitarize the police by limiting the transfer of military weaponry to state and local police departments. It will combat police brutality by requiring body and dashboard cameras, banning choke holds, no knock warrants in drug cases, and end racial profiling. We’ll finally make lynching, Mr. Hoyer, a federal hate crime. And I support Chairwoman Bass and Representative Bobby Smith and our two distinguished Senators, Harris and Booker, and others for their work in helping to pass H.R.35 this year.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:12)
Police brutality is heartbreaking reflection of an entrenched system of racial injustice in America. True justice can only be achieved with full comprehensive action. That’s what we are doing today. This is a first step. There is more to come. In the coming weeks, the bill, the House will hold hearings, mark up the bill. Once the House passes it, the Justice and Policing Act, Leader McConnell will, hopefully, he must swiftly take it up. Leader in the Congress, the President must not stand in the way of justice. The Congress in the country will not relent until this legislation is made into law.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:54)
My colleague, Mr. Clyburn, is always getting awards for liberty and justice for all. That’s what this is about. That’s what our distinguished Leader, Mr. Schumer, talked about in Emancipation Hall, and pleased to yield to the distinguished leader in the United States Senate, Democratic Leader, Mr. Schumer. Mr. Schumer.
Chuck Schumer: (12:18)
Thank you. Well, thank you, Speaker Pelosi. And I’m so proud to be joined by so many of my colleagues, Leader Hoyer, Senators Booker and Harris, Representatives Bass, Clyburn, Nadler, and Jeffries for joining us in speaking this morning, and all the support that we have from so many wonderful people behind us. Over the past week, hundreds of thousands of Americans have engaged in peaceful demonstrations against police violence and systemic racism. This large diverse group, so many of them young, gives us hope that Americans are prepared to march and fight to make this a more perfect union once and for all. And so today, we are taking the first of many steps, many necessary steps, to respond to this national pain with bold action.
Chuck Schumer: (13:10)
As my colleagues will explain, the Justice and Policing Act proposes crucial reforms to combat racial violence and excessive force by law enforcement through strong accountability measures, increased data and transparency, and important modifications to police training and practices. This has never been done before at the federal level. In the Senate, Democrats are going to fight like hell to make this a reality. Americans who took to the streets this week have demanded change. With this legislation, Democrats are heeding their calls. Now we must collectively, all Americans, raise our voices and call on Leader McConnell to put this reform bill on the floor of the Senate before July to be debated and voted on.
Chuck Schumer: (14:01)
Now, some Senate Republicans have acknowledged the egregious wrongs, but few have expressed a need for floor action. Too many have remained silent. Maybe they’re hoping the issue goes away. I promise them it will not. Democrats will not let this go away and we will not rest until we achieve real reforms. Leader McConnell, let’s have the debate, not just on TV and Twitter, but on the floor of the United States Senate. A divided nation cannot wait for healing, for solutions. The poison of racism affects more than our criminal justice system. It runs much deeper than that. There are racial disparities in housing and healthcare, education, the economy, jobs, income, wealth. And COVID has only placed a magnifying glass on them.
Chuck Schumer: (14:55)
It is our job, our job as Representatives of an imperfect union to right those wrongs, bring the reality and promise of America into closer alignment. Equal justice under law is one such promise. That’s what this morning and the Justice and Policing Act is all about, the centuries long struggle to make those words actually true for black Americans and every American. Senator Hoyer, or Congressman Hoyer.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:29)
Chuck Schumer: (15:30)
Steny Hoyer: (15:36)
These are serious times. I’ve walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge 15 times hand in hand with my brother, John Lewis. My grandchildren have been there. My daughters have been there. In Selma in 2015, President Obama asked us this. What greater form of patriotism is there-
Steny Hoyer: (16:03)
What greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals. That is what the Boston Tea Party was about. A demonstration. Some Britain’s would say a violation of law to redress rights. We remain a nation of imperfections, calling out to us to be addressed with the seriousness and determination to make good on the promise that all are created equal, all entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the right to breathe.
Speaker 5: (17:11)
Steny Hoyer: (17:14)
The right to have their lives matter. We’ve heard our people cry out, “I can’t breathe.” We’ve heard our people speak out, “Black lives matter.” Black lives matter. The protests we’ve seen in recent days are an expression of rage born of despair. Today, democrats in the House and Senate are saying, “We see you. We hear you. We are acting.” Thank you, Karen Bass. Thank you, Congressional Black Caucus. Thank you, Leader Pelosi and Leader Schumer. The killing must stop. The carnage must end. That begins with transparency and accountability. Among other provisions, this bill will increase transparency and accountability of law enforcement nationwide by one, requiring state and local law enforcement agencies to collect and report data. Secondly, incentivizing the creation of independent investigation structures for police involved in deaths and creating best practice recommendations based on the Obama administration’s 21st century policing task force.
Steny Hoyer: (18:41)
This legislation makes it clear that police department are serving and are answerable to all the residents in their communities, including African-Americans. I want to thank my colleagues who have been leading this effort in the House, Chairwoman Bass, Chairman Nadler, Chairman Jeffries, and Whip Clyburn, and Senator Harris. We keep in our minds today the word of our dear departed colleague, Elijah Cummings, “We are better than this.” And now it’s my privilege to introduce a former mayor of a great city in our country, a representative the state of New Jersey, and a leader in this effort, Senator Cory Booker. We are better than this.
Speaker 6: (19:35)
Harris will go after you.
Senator Cory Booker: (19:49)
We in America are one precious same nation, but we have a wildly different set of experiences with the police. Where Black Americans live in fear of police interactions, disproportionally having our common ideals of fairness trampled. Where Black Americans disproportionately have our rights violated. Where Black Americans, disproportionally and unjustifiably, have violence, experience violence at the hands of the police. Where Black Americans unarmed or killed by police at grievous and wretches rates. In this moment in America, knowledge of this and acknowledgement of this is necessary, but it is not enough. Empathy, and sympathy, and words of caring for those who have died and suffered are necessary, but it’s not enough. Having a nation that in all 50 States, millions of Americans of all ages, religious, and racial backgrounds are standing up and nonviolent protest has made this moment possible, but it’s not enough. We must change laws and systems of accountability. We must pass legislation that makes our common values and our common ideals real in the law of our land. This bill focuses on accountability and transparency in polices. Specifically, the federal statute that governs police misconduct, section 242, it changes the difficult statutory standard of willfulness that makes holding police accountable too difficult, and it changes that standard from being willful to being reckless disregard. It also establishes transparency, making certification requirements that now vary by location where cities and towns do not share critical information with each other, making it far too easy for problematic officers to be fired in one town and easily hired in another. This bill closes a dangerous loophole by creating the first ever National Registry of Policeman’s Conduct to better record and track police abuses to give transparency to local citizens, helping to create the necessary accountability.
Senator Cory Booker: (22:50)
I want to thank the leadership of Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer. I want to thank the head of the Congressional Black Caucus and all the members of the Black Caucus. I want to thank my partner, Kamala Harris, for her leadership in making a real piece of legislation sweeping and historic. And now we must deal with the work of making it the law of the land, of transforming the energy and the power, the empathy and the love of this moment into actual changes in American federal law. I’m honored to bring up my colleague, my friend, my sister, and my partner, Senator Kamala Harris.
Senator Kamala Harris: (23:33)
Thank you, brother Cory. Thank you to Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader Hoyer, Whip Clyburn, CBC Chair Karen Bass, my brother, Cory Booker, Chairman Nadler, and Chairman Jeffries, and everyone for the work that so many of you have been doing for decades. For decades. Shouting and passing or writing legislation, and requiring that America takes seriously this issue of policing and take seriously the issue that when the people are marching in the streets, it is because they are fully aware of the history of this issue in America, and they’ve had enough. So I thank all the leaders here for what you do. And we’re here because Black Americans want to stop being killed.
Senator Kamala Harris: (24:21)
Just last week, we couldn’t even pass an anti-lynching bill in the United States Senate. So when we look at where we are now with this piece of legislation, we have to understand, yes, as a country, we’ve seen great progress, but just last week in the year of our Lord, 2020, we could not get an anti-lynching bill passed in the United States Senate. But we are here today with common sense solutions, to hold, at least at the federal level, to hold police accountable. But we know this is an issue that is not just at the federal level, it is at the state and local level as well. But we are here today to say in our position as leaders in our federal government, that reform and change must happen and it must happen now. And let’s be clear, reforming policing is in the best interest of all Americans.
Senator Kamala Harris: (25:21)
It is literally in the best interest of all Americans, because this is a basic matter of fairness, and as so many have said, justice. But to be clear, also, there is a broader issue that is not being addressed in this bill. And that is what we must do as a nation to truly achieve safe and healthy communities. Part of what has been upside down in policing policy in America is that we have confused having safe communities with hiring more cops on the street, as though that is the way to achieve safe communities. When in fact the real way to achieve safe and healthy communities is to invest in those communities, in affordable housing, in the ability for home ownership, jobs, funding our public schools, giving people access to capital so they can grow those small businesses that are part of the leadership and the health of these communities.
Senator Kamala Harris: (26:26)
So ours is a bill that addresses a very specific matter under a larger umbrella of all that must be addressed. When we talk about the need for safety and safe in health communities in America, this specifically is a bill about accountability and consequence for bad behaviors by those who have been invested by society and the people with the ability to wear a badge and carry a gun. And let’s be clear, many in America right now already live in places with minimal police presence. Go to any middle and upper class suburb and you will not see the kind of presence of police that you see in other neighborhoods, but you will also see in those communities that those families have jobs that allow them to pay the bills and keep a roof over their head. You will also see in those communities thriving schools, you will also see in those communities access to affordable healthcare or families that can afford access to healthcare.
Senator Kamala Harris: (27:33)
So what we are doing today is saying that we need to have consequence and accountability in America for policing, but we also know that this is not the way that we are going to achieve healthy and safe communities, it is but a part of a much bigger issue that we still must address. So in closing, I’ll just mention a few the other points that are in the bill that are very important. And I say this as a former prosecutor, we need a national use of force standard. Right now, the question asked if there is police misconduct and excessive force is to ask of that use of force, “Was it reasonable?” Well, as we all know, we can reason away just about anything the appropriate and fair question to ask is, “Was it necessary?” So part of what our bill will address is a national use of force standard, independent investigations, again, as a former prosecutor, I can say, no matter how well intentioned the prosecutor of a DA’s office, when they are confronted with dealing with misconduct by a police officer who serves in a department they work with every day, at the very least, there will be an appearance of conflict, even when none is intended.
Senator Kamala Harris: (28:45)
If a justice system is going to be robust and real, it must not only do justice, there must be an appearance of justice and confidence by the public that justice is being done in that place. So independent investigations and then the last piece that I’ll add is the pattern and practice investigations. Under President Obama under General Holder, these were robust. Where when there was a finding or an accusation, that there was a pattern and practice within a law enforcement agency, the federal government would do investigations. Well, those under this current administration have practically been shut down. They need to be reinstated but also what we are saying is to give it teeth, in addition to what has been done in the past, we will grow on that progress by giving the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice subpoena power so when police departments do not comply with requests, they will be required to, by responding to a subpoena. And so my final point is, again, that it is time for this and I am so heartened by all of the colleagues we have in the United States Senate, Leader Schumer who have banded together in support of this, and there’s more work to be done, but I applaud all of the leaders on the stage, thank you. And I will now introduce… [inaudible 00:00:30:07]. You go.
Speaker 7: (30:09)
Okay, I’d like to bring up the majority Whip, Mr. Jim Clyburn.
James Clyburn: (30:17)
Thank you, Madam Chair, to Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader Hoyer, Chairleader Bass, and all the other members who are here today. With liberty and justice for all. When I was a kid growing up in the little town of Sumpter, South Carolina, we said the pledge every morning, and it ends with that phrase, “With liberty and justice for all.” A vision that we all knew that little town was simply a vision. And when we were trying to put together our response, what were then [inaudible 00:15:05], I said on the telephone call that, “This gives us a tremendous opportunity to restructure things in that vision.” I was mocked for that. I was attacked for wanting liberty and justice for all by various media. I don’t back away from that. We are here today in search of that vision, liberty and justice for all. Now, you’ve heard what’s going to be in this legislation. I want to say two things. First, to those who are responsible for writing it and secondly, to those who are responsible-
Jim Clyburn: (32:02)
Secondly to those who are responsible for writing about it. Let me say this. With few exceptions, white people came to this country willingly in search of a new world, full of Liberty and justice for all. With few exceptions, black people came to this country against their will. Chained. Shackled. And came to these shores enslaved and stayed that way for 244 years. Think about how long that is, how many generations that is. It was a long time, eight minutes and 46 seconds that’s a long time to be on one knee. But for 244 years, there are plenty of knees on the necks on blacks who came to this country. And so as we write this legislation, and as you write about this legislation, please keep those two diversion sets of experiences in mind. We are still in search of a more perfect union. We will always be in search of a more perfect union. We must not allow any force in whatever office when they hold to turn the clock back on that pursuit. And with that, I am pleased to introduce and present the chair of judiciary, Jared, Natalie, my classmate.
Jerry Nadler: (34:28)
Thank you very much. I want to begin by thanking my dear friend, Karen Bass, the chair of the Black Caucus and chair of the Crime Subcommittee along with senator’s Booker and Harris and our distinguished leadership for their tremendous partnership in producing this important legislation. It has been inspiring to work alongside all of them throughout this whole process. We have heard the terrifying words I can’t breathe from George Floyd, from Eric Garner, from the millions of Americans in the streets, calling out for revenge for change. Our hearts ache for the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Amadou Diallo and the many other victims of police violence over the years. For every incident of excessive force that makes headlines the ugly truth is that there are countless others that we never hear about. We value and respect the many brave and honorable police officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect us and our communities.
Jerry Nadler: (35:37)
But we cannot be blind to the structural racism and injustice that pervades far too many of our law enforcement agencies. This is a systemic problem that requires a comprehensive solution. It has been an honor to work in lockstep with the congressional Black Caucus and the other sponsors to craft the justice and policing act. A historic piece of legislation. This bold, transformative and responsible legislation will finally ban [inaudible 00:36:09] at the federal level and incentivize States do the same. Help end racial profiling, get weapons of war off our streets, hold police accountable in a meaningful way, increase transparency, and require and encourage greater use of body cameras. It does all of this while also addressing issues on the front end, by ensuring that our law enforcement agencies adhere to the very highest standards in training, hiring, and deescalation strategies to address systemic racism and bias, to change the culture of law enforcement in America, and ultimately to save lives.
Jerry Nadler: (36:50)
It creates the first ever national accreditation standard for the operation of police departments. And it creates law enforcement development and training programs to establish best practices based on President Obama’s task force in 21st century policing. It also reinvests in our communities and empowers them to shape the future of policing through grants to community based organizations for task forces on policing innovation. On Wednesday of this week, the house judiciary committee will hold a hearing on the crisis of racial profiling, police brutality and the loss of trust between police departments and the communities they serve.
Jerry Nadler: (37:31)
I expect that what we learned during that hearing will only strengthen the case for this legislation, which we hope to take up in the committee in the coming weeks. The streets are flooded with protesters across the nation and around the world right now. They are outraged. They observe moments of silences. They take the knee, they are tired of empty promises. They are demanding justice and they are demanding action. And I say to them, we hear you. We are inspired by you. We are taking action with you and together we will change laws because of you and we will make a difference. Thank you. And I now have the great pleasure of introducing the chair of the Democratic Caucus representative Hakeem Jeffries.
Hakeem Jeffries: (38:28)
Thank you, Jerry, to chairwoman Bass, speaker Pelosi, leader Schumer, all of my colleagues in government, I’m appreciative of your leadership and of what this moment represents. Racism is a cancer that poisons our society. And today we take a step toward addressing it by trying to eradicate the malignant tumor of police brutality, far too often disproportionately directed at unarmed, innocent law abiding African American men and women. The choke hold and other police tactics, such as a knee to the neck, which cut off breathing and result in asphyxiation is a procedure that is unnecessary, unacceptable, uncivilized, unconscionable, and un-American. This legislation will make it unlawful under our nation’s civil rights laws. A significant number of police departments already prohibit the use of the choke hold and tactics such as a knee to the neck as a matter of policy, but it still continues to be deployed through this very moment.
Hakeem Jeffries: (40:18)
And that’s why we need to address it, prohibit it, outlaw it, criminalize it as a matter of law. Like any profession, there are very good police officers and there are bad ones. We embrace those police officers who are in the community to protect and serve, but violent police officers, brutal police officers, abusive police officers must be held accountable. The justice and policing act will reform the doctrine of qualified immunity. In order to make sure that victims of police brutality can vindicate their full rights, under section 1983 and our nation’s civil rights laws. Unless there’s accountability their will never be change, unless there’s change, brutality will continue. And then we’ll be trapped in a vicious cycle of anguish and despair. Lastly, African Americans have been in this country since, before there was a country.
Hakeem Jeffries: (41:50)
We arrived on these shores in 1619, in shackles. And as a result of our blood, our sweat, our tears, our intellect, our ingenuity, our hard work, we help to build this great country. And all we’ve ever wanted is to be treated equally, not better, not worse, equally. Why has that been so difficult to achieve? That’s all we’ve ever wanted. Equal protection under the law, liberty and justice for all, treated with courtesy, professionalism, and respect by law enforcement. All we’ve ever wanted is to be treated equally. The justice and policing act represents a strong, necessary, bold step in that direction. And I thank my colleagues for their leadership. I now yield to distinguish chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Karen Bass.
Karen Bass: (43:11)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, next year will be the 50th anniversary of the congressional Black Caucus. 50 years ago, there were 13 members of the Congressional Black Caucus and one of them representative Metcalfe, he was the one that came up with policies related to police abuse over almost 50 years ago. So it is in their history, their legacy that we stand today and to continue on. And I just want to thank all of my colleagues that are here today, because we’re not in session today. And you came in specifically for this, and I just want to thank you for being here and for standing in solidarity with this legislation. Let me say also that one of the beauties of this bill is that many members of the Congressional Black Caucus have legislation, individual bills that are part of the larger bill because they’ve been working on it for so long. I just want to briefly mention their names and open up for questions. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Hank Johnson, Representative Clay, Bonnie Watson Coleman, John Lewis, Representative Butterfield and Pressley. And with that, I’d like to open it up for questions. Yes.
Speaker 10: (44:20)
Thank you Chairwoman Bass. Because there are so many of you here today who believe in this legislation. I was wondering if you could make with a show of hands demonstrate how many of you are confident that this legislation can actually cross the finish line, that it can actually become law in this current political environment.
Karen Bass: (44:40)
You want us to raise our hands?
Speaker 10: (44:41)
Karen Bass: (44:42)
There you go.
Speaker 11: (44:43)
[inaudible 00:44:43] in President Trump?
Speaker 10: (44:44)
That’s part of it.
Karen Bass: (44:47)
Can I just say that one of the things that gives us confidence is the fact that there are thousands of people around this country marching, there is a movement that has caught fire that is multiracial, and that has also spread around the world. And we need to think about how the United States appears around the world. When we go out and promote human rights, the world is looking at us. That’s going to help us over the finish line. Yes.
Speaker 11: (45:14)
Chairwoman to follow up on that. The president tweeted law and order not defend and abolish the police, the radical left Democrats have gone crazy. I’m not asking you to respond to the president’s tweet-
Karen Bass: (45:25)
Speaker 11: (45:26)
But that is the narrative-
Karen Bass: (45:29)
Oh, you’re not going to good.
Speaker 11: (45:30)
Yeah, no, that is the narrative that the president and Republicans could very well likely create around this legislation. So how do you respond to that? And also, can you also just on camera, tell us why you’re wearing the Kente cloth, the significance of today, why you’re wearing it.
Karen Bass: (45:48)
Well, the significance of the Kente cloth is our African heritage. And for those of you, without that heritage, we’re acting in solidarity, that is the significance of the kente cloth our origins and respecting our past. Would anybody… I mean, I’m happy to respond to that, but if anybody else would like to. I think for us, especially when it comes to this legislation, we feel it is transformative, that it will transform the relationships that our communities have with the police. And I think that in terms of the law and order message that the president is spewing out of there, there’s nothing new about that message. And I do not believe it will be successful. Yes.
Speaker 12: (46:28)
Yes. Senator Cotton, called for an overwhelming show of [inaudible 00:46:34] the first airborne, 82nd airborne should be brought in-
Karen Bass: (46:40)
Anybody want to answer?
Speaker 11: (46:41)
He also told Politico that he doesn’t believe he can save [inaudible 00:46:43] systemic racism in the criminal justice system. I wonder if you could respond to those two ideals.
Karen Bass: (46:53)
Yeah, I can. Would somebody like to respond? Mr. [ inaudible 00:46:57].
Jim Clyburn: (47:02)
Many of you have heard me go to Tocqueville’s description of what makes this country great. And he wrote in his two [inaudible 00:47:15] book democracy in America, that America is not great because it’s more enlightened than any other nation, but rather because it has always been able to repair its faults. That’s what makes this country great. And most right thinking Americans know that the greatness of this country is at stake. We have unveiled for whatever reason, some faults that need to be repaired, faults in the healthcare system, faults in our judicial system. So let me say to Mr. Cotton, pick up in the history book of a…
Jim Clyburn: (48:03)
Pick up in the history book of America. I would ask him to please just read the history of Isaac Woodard, a black man who came home from World War II on the bus from Fort Gordon, Georgia trying to get to South Carolina. And he was stopped, taken off a bus in Batesburg, South Carolina, by a deputy sheriff. He was in his uniform and that deputy sheriff took his billy stick and punched his eyes out. Is that institutional in law enforcement? And that has been the foundation upon which law enforcement, in many parts of this country, that have been established. Cotton is from Arkansas. You ought to be ashamed of himself.
Lacy Clay: (49:04)
Let me also add. I represent the heartland of America. Missouri is just north [crosstalk 00:01:13]. Oh, I’m Lacy Clay from St. Louis, Missouri. Missouri is just north of Arkansas, and I would suggest to any local, state, or federal official, sometimes we have to follow the will and wishes of the American people. Now I’ve seen millions in my state and around the country, in small towns in Missouri and throughout this nation, who know there is an injustice throughout this nation that we have been treated unequally.
Lacy Clay: (49:51)
So I suggest Senator Cotton and others follow the lead of the people, the American people, and get on board with this effort. Thank you.
Karen Bass: (50:04)
Speaker 13: (50:06)
I think both Republicans in both the House and Senate said that a compromise can be reached, but in order to do this, House lawmakers need to be called back to the House. Speaker Pelosi, would you like to address that?
Nancy Pelosi: (50:17)
They don’t have to be called back. They don’t have to be called back.
Speaker 13: (50:17)
That’s what Senator McCarthy has said.
Nancy Pelosi: (50:17)
Yeah, but he’s not a senator and I don’t care [crosstalk 00:50:29]. Who’s Senator McCarthy? [crosstalk 00:50:34].
Speaker 13: (50:40)
I’ve heard later McCarthy’s comments. We are working. We’re here on behalf of the American people, not just African Americans, but the American people. Committees are working today, and I said I’m going to call the House back as soon as this legislation is ready to hit the floor, and we’re going to vote on it, and I’m confident it’s going to pass the House. But sadly, I am not confident that a body that has not been able to pass the Emmett Till Lynching Bill will pass this bill. I hope so, and I hope the President doesn’t adapt your premise. I hope he adopts a premise of justice for all. And if he does, America will get better.
Nancy Pelosi: (51:39)
Speaker 15: (51:40)
Congresswoman, the Minneapolis City Council has done a sort of, people are calling it defund the police. Is that something that your caucus supports? Is it something that can happen in a federal way? Or is that just-
Karen Bass: (51:56)
Well, I can’t imagine that happening in a federal way, but let me just tell you that part of that cry is a desire for there to be significant higher investment in communities, looking at why police are needed, what happens, what are the root causes of the problems in communities. And a lot of people feel when it comes to the defense budget, maybe that money could be used in different ways, and I think that that’s a similar issue. But the part about having a comprehensive investment in communities, on behalf of the Black Caucus, let me just say that obviously we’re focusing on this bill right now, but we do have other legislation coming along the lines in the form of jobs and justice, which gets at a lot of issues in the community.
Speaker 16: (52:42)
Karen Bass: (52:42)
Speaker 16: (52:42)
Just to follow up. Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer, do you support the defund the police movement that we’re seeing on the ground?
Nancy Pelosi: (52:52)
I think the Congresswoman answered your question very clearly. But the fact is, is that we do have a great deal of legislation coming down the pike that addresses some of the concerns of our communities across the country. One of them that I wish the Senate would pass right away is the HEROES Act. In the HEROES Act, we support community, state and local governments. We support the disparity in the coronavirus out of the tax communities of color. And we would hope that the Senate would not ignore that and would pass the legislation. And we would hope that we’d put more money into the pockets of people who really need that now. And so we have that. And then following, Mr. Hoyer has on the schedule that before 4th of July, hopefully we will pass the Affordable Care Act Stabilization Act, which will provide more fairness in access to affordable healthcare in our country.
Nancy Pelosi: (53:46)
As Mr. Clyburn mentioned earlier, that’s a challenge as well as our building the infrastructure legislation that will build America in a green way providing jobs. That’s what we said when we ran in 2012. We were going to for the people, lower the cost of healthcare by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and keeping the preexisting condition benefit. We were going to lower healthcare costs, bigger paychecks by building infrastructure in a green way. And third, cleaner government with Mr. Lewis’ provisions in there that are about ending voter suppression and the rest.
Nancy Pelosi: (54:25)
So these are all kinds of ways that we come at this. The fact that Distinguished Chairwoman mentioned, and she has said and others have said, we want to work with our police departments. There are many who take pride in their work, and we want to be able to make sure that the focus is on them. But there are many things we call upon our police departments to deal with, mental health issues, policing in schools and the rest that we could rebalance some of our funding to address some of those issues more directly.
Nancy Pelosi: (55:02)
But this isn’t about that. And that should not be the story that leaves here. The story that leaves here is, as Mr. Clyburn said, liberty and justice for all. Mr. Schumer has mentioned that as well here and in the emancipation home. Mr. Hoyer mentioned quoting our distinguished former president, Mr. Obama, as to what modesty or humility or patriotism says, we know we have to do better in certain respects. So let’s focus on what Lincoln said. Public sentiment is everything. With it, you can accomplish almost anything. Without it, practically nothing. The public sentiment could not be clearer. We need to make some transformative change, not incremental, transformative change. And as we do so we will change policy as we do in this legislation. We will use all the tools at our disposal to make sure that we are moving toward a more perfect union with liberty and justice for all, and have those debates at the local level as they, that is a local decision, a local level, but to do so, that doesn’t say we’re going to pile more money on to further militarize the police.
Nancy Pelosi: (56:19)
No. We’re going to address mental health issues, education issues in our communities as well. And I don’t want anyone to get the impression that but for some of the stuff we are doing now, many of these people would be not productive members of society. They will. We just want to make it easier for them in the communities to be able to be treated equally, as Mr. Jeffries mentioned. Where did he go? Our Chairman of the Judiciary Committee spent his life on these issues about fairness. Thank you, Mr. Nadler, for that.
Nancy Pelosi: (56:53)
So everyone here knows what they’re talking about and what they’re doing. And the safety of the American people is an oath that we take to protect and defend. That’s our responsibility. We know that their safety is important and to do so in a constitutional way, and not in some slogan air tweeting way that the President may put forth.
Nancy Pelosi: (57:18)
So we feel very confident about the path that we’re on not only with this legislation, but what will come next. And we’ll do so listening, as Stanley said, we hear you. We see you, and your views are important to us as we go forward. It’s a pretty exciting time. This is a transformational piece of legislation. This is an important day. The martyrdom, the martyrdom of George Floyd, and by Tuesday, by tomorrow, may he rest in peace, has made a change in the world. So let’s not get into these questions that may be from the small minds of some, but as far as safety is concerned, but look at it writ large. With that, you’ll back to Distinguished Chair.
Karen Bass: (58:08)
Two things very quickly. One, the bill does not provide any new money for policing. And two, there is a provision in the bill for grants to communities to have projects that begin to re-envision what policing might be about in a particular neighborhood. And let me also say, as the Speaker said, public sentiments, so the polling for public sentiment is 80% in support of peaceful protests, where people now recognize the challenges in our policing system. Let me bring up Lisa Blunt Rochester from the great state of Delaware.
Lisa Blunt Rochester: (58:44)
Thank you. Thank you, Madam Speaker, and to all of the leadership here. John Lewis is not here, but he is our colleague, and he has been the conscience of the conscience of the Congress. And what he probably would say is let’s keep our eyes on the prize. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize. Everybody in this country can do something that nobody else can do. We are the Congress, and what we’re doing here today is our role. There will be state and local governments that will call for things in their areas. But there was a question at the beginning where we were asked to raise our hand about our belief in whether this could happen or not. Well, I looked at some of my colleagues like Bobby Scott and Rosie Deloro and others here.
Lisa Blunt Rochester: (59:40)
When I started three years ago, three and a half years ago, I would not have believed that we would have had paid family leave or sick time. But the times called for it because of COVID-19. This is the time. This is the time. As Fannie Lou Hamer said we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. And so that’s why you see us flying in from across the country, because we’re doing our job. And so for all the distractors out there, masters of distraction, we’re keeping our eyes on the prize. We’re keeping our eyes on the prize and we need that to be the story. State and local will do what stay local needs to do. Those folks, those young people, those old people, those black, white, native people who this country, if we really want to go deep, we’re trying to rebuild the foundation. That’s all. So keep our eyes on the prize.
Karen Bass: (01:01:01)
Well, with that, I think that’s a great close. And let me just end by saying that as we address the question of police abuse, we understand that it impacts many different communities, not just the African American community, the Latino community, the Asian community, the Native American community, and we are united in getting justice in policing passed. Thank you very much. [crosstalk 01:01:25] [inaudible 01:01:30]