Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin offered an apology to Sen. Tim Scott, the lone black Republican in the Senate, after dismissing his police reform bill as a “token” approach.
“The minute Sen. Durbin heard that he had offended Sen. Scott, he sought him out on the floor and apologized,” Durbin’s communications director Emily Hampsten said in a Wednesday statement to the Washington Examiner.
“What Sen. Durbin took issue with in his floor speech was not Sen. Scott’s bill, but that the Senate Majority Leader would short circuit this critical debate and fail to make the changes needed to prevent the killing of Black Americans by police officers,” she added.
Durbin, a senator from Illinois, earlier Wednesday warned lawmakers against pushing forward with police reform legislation that is “a token, half-hearted approach.”
Scott, a senator from South Carolina, responded by tweeting out a reference to Democratic leaders who wore kente cloths while kneeling during a moment of silence for George Floyd.
“Y’all still wearing those kente cloths over there @SenatorDurbin?” Scott tweeted, hinting at the criticism that some of the white lawmakers received for wearing the garb, which has its roots in Africa and is now worn as a symbol of black identity.
“To have the senator from Illinois refer to this process, this bill, this opportunity to restore hope and confidence and trust from the American people, from African Americans, from communities of color, to call this a token process hurts my soul for my country, for our people,” Scott also said of the remarks.
During the same floor speech where Durbin made the “token” remarks about the GOP’s police reform bill that was unveiled by Scott and Republicans on Wednesday, he also called Scott a “friend” and said that he thought Republicans made a “good choice” in picking Scott to lead the effort.
The GOP bill, titled the Justice Act, incentivizes police departments to ban chokeholds, discourages no-knock warrants, offers grants for police body cameras, and would make lynching a federal crime, among other proposals.