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Tim Scott sets new July goal for Senate to pass police reform bill

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told Axios on Tuesday that he hopes the Senate will pass a bipartisan police reform bill by the end of the month — setting a new goal in the broader fight to massively overhaul the nation’s policing.

Why it matters: Scott has been leading negotiations on a bipartisan deal for months, with the effort getting new legs in the wake of Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. But the pressure to turn talks into legislation that can pass both chambers of Congress continues to be an uphill battle — and time is of the essence if lawmakers want to get a deal done before August recess.

  • Scott and other negotiators — including Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) — have still yet to produce legislative text for the bill.

Driving the news: “I don’t think we can do this, after this month, if we’re not finished,” Scott told Axios and other reporters regarding the current state of negotiations.

  • Asked if the Senate needs to have the bipartisan bill pass by the end of the month, Scott said: “That’s what I would hope.”
  • An aide to Scott later clarified that he did not mean the group will stop negotiating if a bill does not pass by the end of July — emphasizing Scott’s use of the word “hope.”

What to watch: Scott put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to make this legislation a top priority: “Schumer runs the floor, and they tell me the floor time is nearly impossible right now and to make that dream a reality,” he said.

State of play: Scott told reporters he thinks the negotiating group has made progress on the bill this week, and that they plan to talk later again on Tuesday.

  • “We’re now swapping language on that on that text,” Scott said. “Of course, there are outlier issues that you have to figure out how to solve, but there are a number of pieces of the legislation that we already agree in concept and now we’re writing it out.”
  • “June or Bust” — the phrase Scott previously used regarding a timeframe for the deal — “was on getting us to the place where we actually agree on the principles of the framework of the legislation. We met that deadline,” Scott said.
  • “Now the question is getting all that into language. Anyone who’s been around for any amount of time realizes that you don’t do anything in this body in two or three weeks, especially on something that can be transformative.”

Go deeper: Lawmakers reach “agreement on a framework” for policing reform

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