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June 24, 2020

King Statement After Voting to Proceed to Debate on Police Reform Legislation

“Now that the legislation has failed to advance, I hope that our body will come together around a real debate”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) released the following statement after the Senate voted 55 to 45 to not advance to debate on police reform legislation:

“The bill I voted to start consideration of today does not enact nearly enough change to address the magnitude of the deep-seated problems of racial injustice facing our nation – but it was the only option before us to debate, and hopefully, come to a bipartisan resolution on this vitally important issue.” Said Senator King. “My concern was that voting against it will end the discussion of this subject in the Senate for the foreseeable future, and leave us with nothing to show for all the energy and passion that has brought this issue to the forefront of public consciousness. I felt we should have begun the conversation on the floor, with amendments available to help strengthen the legislation into something better. While I understand the reservations of those who saw this bill as flawed, I believe a floor debate would build awareness and support for the broader measures that are needed here. On a topic this important, I did not want to miss what might be our best opportunity to get something done.

“Now that the legislation has failed to advance, I hope that this body will come together around a real debate in both the Judiciary Committee and on the Senate floor.  In talking with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and with my constituents in Maine, there is a broad consensus that reforms are needed in how police departments interact with the communities they serve, especially communities of color – so let’s do bipartisan work to produce legislation that can address the challenge. We should use the committee process to construct a better bill that responds to the concerns of the thousands of peaceful protesters who raised their voice and called for change. I’m disappointed that Leader McConnell refuses to engage in any meaningful discussions to address the shortcomings in this bill, and urge him to reconsider his approach in the days ahead, emphasizing real reforms instead of political points. Americans deserve results, and they should see us in the Senate doing the job they sent us here to do. This body is up to the task if Leader McConnell lets us work together, instead of insisting we stand opposed.”

Senator King has urged members of both parties to work together to craft legislation that will address the challenges facing communities of color and enact systemic changes that save lives. This week, he and Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) urged Senate leaders to “rise to the occasion of this moment” and allow a process that encourages bipartisan work, including in the Judiciary Committee. 

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