Congress needs to come together on policing: GOP Sen. Rick Scott

Sen. Rick Scott appeared on "This Week."

April 25, 2021, 10:46 AM

As the nation reacts to the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, members of Congress need to work to bring people together on policing, not incite division, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said on "This Week" Sunday.

"Justice prevailed," Scott told "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos.

Referring to remarks from President Joe Biden and Rep. Maxine Waters on the case, Scott added, "I think we ought to bring people together, not sort of incite people to do the wrong thing, but it's horrible that (the murder) happened. I hope it never happens again."

The National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman suggested to Stephanopoulos that when it came to police reform, Democrats did not want to negotiate with a Republican proposal, led by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.

"I'm disappointed with the Democrats. Tim Scott worked hard last year on police reform bill, and the Democrats blocked it in the filibuster, so all of us would like to make sure we keep our communities safe," he said.

Senate Democrats blocked a reform bill from their GOP counterparts in June of last year, citing that it stopped short of several measures they deemed necessary. Last month, the House passed the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, which was introduced by Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., but Democrats are short the 10 Republican votes needed for the bill to pass the Senate unchanged.

However, Scott of South Carolina said this week he believes progress could be made in the coming weeks within negotiations between Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Bass. Bass herself told Stephanopoulos in a separate interview Sunday she believes a compromise can be reached as bipartisan talks are continuing.

Asked about qualified immunity -- the United States' standard of protecting police officers from claims of violating a person's rights, and what seems to be the dividing line in further bipartisan negotiations on reform -- Scott of Florida said Sunday he was hoping to find common ground on "best practices."

"I've always listened to everybody's proposals, but what I'm not going to do is put a law enforcement in a position that they've got to second guess themselves when they're trying to make sure people are staying safe," he said. "The vast majority of law enforcement officers, show up every day, put their lives at risk every day and do the right thing."

Stephanopoulos also pressed Scott on immigration policy, another area of contention between Democrats and Republicans, as the Biden administration struggles to handle the massive influx of unaccompanied minors at the border. He raised a quote from former President George W. Bush, who called today's Republican Party "isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent, nativist."

In response, Scott again said Democrats aren't willing to meet in the middle when it comes to handling some of the nation's most pressing issues.

"The Republican Party is the land of opportunity. I live in an immigration state, but I believe in legal immigration," he started. "But look, the Democrats don't want to do anything. I believe we've got to figure out how to take care of the DACA kids. We have to create security at the border and let's figure out how we make us a country where people that want to live the dream that we want to live, can come in here on legal basis."

Biden said in a meeting this week with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that he supports using the Senate's reconciliation powers if Democrats cannot find the 10 GOP votes needed to pass reform.

Stephanopoulos challenged Scott, who is in charge of electing GOP senators in 2022, on the influence of former President Donald Trump over the party after he vowed to support moderate Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's eventual opponent when she is up for reelection next year.

Scott said he believes Murkowski, who won her last election through a write-in campaign, will serve another term.

"Well, I think Lisa Murkowski will have a great win. We're gonna have -- you know, Republicans are united, we don't like the Biden agenda," he said. "This is a country with the land of opportunity, and I'm proud to be Republican, and I know we're gonna have a big win in '22 and Biden is helping us each and every day."

Stephanopoulos also pushed Scott on his decision to award Trump with a "Champion of Freedom Award," after Trump was subject to the most bipartisan impeachment trial in this nation's history.

"And you did that despite the fact that the former president continues to spread lies about the election, about Mike Pence and the Capitol siege on January 6th. He said there was no threat there," Stephanopoulos said.

Scott said the award was to recognize Trump's achievements, because he "worked hard" on various issues.

"I gave him that award for the right reasons. He worked on border security. He worked on creating the best economy we've had probably in my lifetime," he started. "I mean he worked hard. You know, every president I know would like to get more things accomplished, but, I mean, he did some things that prior presidents had not gotten done."

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