As Americans, we face unprecedented challenges with the public health and economic crises of the coronavirus. Our priority must be to find a vaccine and support our economy in a safe, responsible manner. Two weeks ago, the murder of George Floyd brought forth justifiable hurt and anger, dividing an already reeling nation looking for answers. This tragedy could have offered a moment of rare political unity, with a majority of the nation in agreement that sensible police reform is needed. Unfortunately, Democrats have prioritized politics over progress and squandered an opportunity to institute meaningful change.
In the wake of Floyd’s murder, President Trump’s executive order and Sen. Tim Scott’s JUSTICE Act provided the framework to improve transparency, accountability, training and communication among law enforcement and the communities they serve. As one of only three African Americans in the Senate, Sen. Scott has been subject to racial profiling and hateful language based solely on the color of his skin. He has been studying, working on, and living these issues long before Democrats felt it was politically opportune to act. Not only did Democrats reject his JUSTICE Act, they failed to even consider debate, despite the opportunity they were given to offer as many as 20 amendments. As Sen. Scott said on the floor of the Senate, the American people asked us, gave us an opportunity to lead and our colleagues on the other side just said NO.
Make no mistake, this was not a rejection of provisions within the bill, it was a calculated decision to prevent Senate Republicans and President Trump from a legislative victory. In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi commented that the Republicans were “trying to get away with murder” in their police reform efforts. I have colleagues in Congress who come home to boast of their bipartisanship but have yet to condemn this self-righteous rhetoric. Such hateful language from the Speaker is unfortunately reflective of too many Democrats across the country who willfully ignore and, at times, outright deny violent protests, looting and the defacement of the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial and St. John’s Church (twice) in Washington, DC. In cities across America, people are pulling down statues while Speaker Pelosi is removing paintings in the Capitol.
Democrats have failed to make a good-faith effort towards reform and finding solutions. Calls to defund the police and the demonization of law enforcement are not helpful to our current state of affairs, and only prolong the problem. They are largely silent on the lawlessness and rioters who have hijacked a worthy cause in pursuit of anarchy. Cities like Minneapolis, Seattle and Atlanta have been run by Democrats for decades. They have had the authority to implement police reform long ago, and now sit idly as law enforcement officials are being driven out of their precincts by mobs. The victims of this chaos are the poor and minority neighborhoods where violence and destruction further erode community-police relations. There is no chance of addressing social injustices without law and order.
Now more than ever, in the wake of a global pandemic and protests spiraling into violence across the nation, America needs to recognize the need for cooperation. Americans deserve to feel safe in their communities, protected from both a virus and violence, and we can only achieve that feeling of security by working together to identify problems and work towards a solution. Too many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle seem quick to highlight the problems, but remain absent during discussions on the solutions.
Dan Meuser is a member of the House of Representatives serving Pennsylvania’s 9th District, which covers portions of Berks, Carbon, Columbia, Lebanon, Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland and Schuylkill counties. The Secretary of Revenue under Gov. Tom Corbett, Meuser began serving as a representative in 2019.
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