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Grassley: police reform bill close to a vote

WASHINGTON — On this one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says a bipartisan police reform bill is nearly ready to go to a vote.

Senators Corey Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, are working on a compromise version of the bill. Grassley says he’s up to speed on the legislation.

“Haven’t had a personal meeting with Scott on it,” Grassley says, “but I’ve been in several larger groups where he’s presented his ideas.” Scott, the only black Republican U.S. senator, says the bill is designed to hold law enforcement accountable for violent incidents, while also developing a system to track problem officers.

Grassley says Scott first crafted the measure last summer, but it’s been languishing for months. “Democrats at that time would not take it up because they didn’t want a Republican senator or Republicans to have a victory during an election year,” Grassley says. “Now, they’re in the majority. They feel the heat of producing something. I think there’s a good chance we can reach an agreement.” Grassley says there are a “couple dozen parts” to the bill, but perhaps just three key elements have been the source of the difficulty.

“One would be the immunity issue for individual policemen and there’s talks of compromise there,” Grassley says. “And then there’s some things on the extent to which the Department of Defense ought to give surplus equipment to local police departments.”

Grassley says the bill also aims to implement a restriction on the police use of chokeholds, like the one used on Floyd. His death was captured on video, which gained global attention and led to widespread protests calling for racial justice.

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