Tim Scott: Police Reform Collapsed Because Dems Supported ‘Defunding the Police’

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the negotiations on police reform collapsed because Democrats wanted to “defund the police.”

Partial transcript as follows:

BRENNAN: What happened? This country was supposed to be at a moment of reckoning at the relationship between police and the black community. Why did you miss the moment?

SCOTT: I’m not sure why they missed the moment. I have been at this table twice already. They’ve walked away twice. They did this a year ago and they’re doing it again now.

BRENNAN: You’re blaming Democrats.–

SCOTT: I can’t-

BRENNAN: For the failure of police reform.

SCOTT: I can’t understand- well, we should ask ourselves, how do we get there at all? It’s the big blue cities where they have failed to pass policies that protect their most vulnerable communities. Think about Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Portland, Seattle. This problem came to the federal government because of the failure of blue mayors and liberal city council members for us to get here. So what we’ve decided to do was to stay at the table and look for common ground. We found common ground, we found common ground on military equipment, we found common ground on chokeholds, we found common ground on providing PTSD assistance and mental health and call responders. We found common ground on a number of areas. Instead of moving forward on the areas where we were in agreement. They just simply walked away.

BRENNAN: But you just detailed all of those points of- of agreement.

SCOTT: Yes.

BRENNAN: Senator Cory Booker, who was your partner in this–

SCOTT: Yes.

BRENNAN: –I mean, this started under the Trump administration and continued under the Biden administration.

SCOTT: Exactly.

BRENNAN: With Republicans in control, it went nowhere. Democrats in control, it’s going nowhere.

SCOTT: But both times, the person- the folks that left the table were the Democrats. Let’s just be clear that we have stayed at the table. We said simply this: ‘I’m not going to participate in reducing funding for the police after we saw major city after major city defund the police.’ Many provisions in this bill that he wanted me to agree to limited or reduced funding for the police. That’s a lose-lose proposition. When you reduce funding for police, you actually lose lives in the communities. Our approach was a win-win approach. We want the best wearing the badge and we want the vulnerable protected. So when you tie funding losses in this legislation, you should expect an allergic reaction from me.

BRENNAN: But they would say that there wasn’t a net loss of funding. In fact, there was funding being increased in terms of increased mental health funding, specifically. That there were specific programs for recruitment and training funding increases, body worn camera funding increases, data collection–

SCOTT: Yes, all-

BRENNAN: So that’s not cutting funding. It might be allocating it in different ways.

SCOTT: Actually, here’s what we know. We have about a billion dollars in grant money that goes to police. When you start saying in order to receive those dollars, you must do A, B and C. And if you don’t do A, B, and C, you literally lose eligibility for the two major pots of money the Byrne grants and the COP grants. When you tell local law enforcement agencies that you are ineligible for money, that’s defunding the police, there’s no way to spin that. You can spin it by saying–

BRENNAN: But this would codify the Trump executive orders.

SCOTT: The Trump executive order I actually agree to.  What I did not agree to was the cuts that come from noncompliance. When you say once again that in order for you to receive the money for the Byrne grants or the COP grants, you must do the following, and if you don’t do the following you lose money — that’s more defunding the police. We saw that tried throughout the country.

BRENNAN: You do want to cut funding for underperformance, is what you’re saying?

SCOTT: Not at all. I would say–

BRENNAN: You would want to increase to police departments that aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing?

SCOTT: Let’s look at- let’s look at what we’re asking for. What the Democrats asked for was a simple thing. They asked for more reporting on serious bodily injury to death. I said, that’s a great idea. When they wanted to nationalize local policing, I said, that’s a bad idea. When they say that every single traffic stop in this country must be reported to the federal government, whether it’s a traffic ticket or stopping someone on the- on the streets of New York or Charleston – every single time that you have any interaction, for the federal government to be in charge of all that information, I say, let’s do it, but let’s do it voluntarily.

BRENNAN: People at home watching this say this was a moment that was missed. This just looks like it’s playing politics again. I mean,–

SCOTT: I do think they’re playing politics. You’re right.

BRENNAN: But what about Republicans here? Because I know you’re saying you’re at the table-

SCOTT: We’re at the table-

BRENNAN: You are at the table, but when you’re coming back to defunding police,–

SCOTT: Here’s- here’s a fact.-

BRENNAN: which is a very effective political line–

SCOTT: No. It’s actually part of their legislation. Now, if we’re going to be fair to the American people to get the whole story–

BRENNAN: But to- but let me just finish my question.-

SCOTT: –You have to allow me to have a conversation about the issue that I’ve been working on for the last two years.-

BRENNAN: –Well let me ask you the question.–

SCOTT: I’m going to give you the answer to defunding the police.–

BRENNAN: –Which is– but isn’t this just Republican not wanting to look like they are being soft on crime ahead of the 2020 races?

SCOTT: Of course not, that’s the answer to the question. No.

BRENNAN: Was that part of your calculation at all?

SCOTT: Not at all. Why would you- why would I be at a table? I’m the- I’m the person who has lived in the communities that we’re talking about. I’m the person who has experienced the challenges that we are trying to solve. I’m the person who understands and appreciates this issue intimately. If you want to keep our community safe, you have to properly fund the police.

BRENNAN: The issue that for- for you sunk all of this had to do with funding related to data collection about traffic stops at the national level?

SCOTT: Absolutely not. I gave you you asked me for specificity. I gave you an example.–

BRENNAN: There were other things-

SCOTT: There were eight or- eight or nine issues- eight or nine parts of the bill were the answer the Democrats put on the table was reducing the funding to the police. When you have one issue, we can work that out. When you have eight different areas of the legislation that reduces funding, that’s a different conversation. Now you’re talking about defunding the police. You may not like that as a statement, but it’s actually what you can read in the language of the bill.

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