Durbin To McConnell: Let's Negotiate In Good-Faith To Reach Bipartisan Agreement On Police Reform

In Speech On Senate Floor, Durbin Warns Against Partisan Police Reform Efforts After McConnell Announces Senate Will Take Up Issue Next Week

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow real debate on policing reform in order to find common ground and warned against a potential partisan vote on the floor of the Senate.  Durbin is a cosponsor of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, a comprehensive approach to hold police accountable for misconduct, change the culture of law enforcement, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities.  This morning, Republican Senators introduced their own police reform legislation, which Senator McConnell announced that the Senate will take up next week.

“We now have two bills, and we have seen the Republican bill for the first time this morning.  Many of us believe it is at least an indication of the urgency of the issue, but not as responsive as it should be,” Durbin said.  “Let us not escape this moment in history.  Let us not avoid it.  Let’s face it.  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.  We understand that you want to see discrimination and racial mistreatment come to an end in this country.”

Durbin continued, “I hope what Senator McConnell said this morning about opening this debate on the floor of the Senate is not just a one and done, take it or leave it approach on the Majority side of the aisle.  Let’s have a real debate.  Let’s have real effort to find common ground."

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Among other initiatives, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020:

  • Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling, and mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
  • Bans chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants at the federal level and limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
  • Mandates the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras for federal offices and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
  • Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices and requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
  • Improves the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and creates a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments.

A fact sheet on the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is available here.

When Durbin chaired the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, he held several hearings on race in America, including his last hearing as Chairman in December 2014 on the State of Civil and Human Rights in the United States.