June 24, 2020
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) took to the Senate floor today to blast Senate Democrats for blocking debate on the JUSTICE Act. As Blunt noted, Senate Democrats’ unwillingness to move forward on the police reform bill prevents the House and Senate from reaching a conference committee and getting a bill to the president’s desk.
Following are Blunt’s Remarks:
“Mr. President, when I heard your comments earlier today, and I couldn't have agreed more, the importance of us dealing with the issues that were on the floor today that we failed to deal with. I heard our good friend Senator Scott's response to the way his hard work was looked at and frankly ignored.
“When the Congress stops resembling an honest and open discussion of the issues, I think it gives us a lot to be concerned about. The solution should be the goal. When Members of Congress are more interested in a bill that they believe to be perfect rather than seriously engaging in debate, it raises a lot of concerns about how we protect liberty and how we do our Constitutional duty.
“I've been in the Congress for a while, Mr. President, as some of my friends are more than eager to point out and I’ve never voted for a perfect bill, ever. I've introduced a couple of perfect bills, but I’ve never voted for a perfect bill. I've never voted for a bill that couldn't be improved.
“Our good friend, Tim Scott, said something the other day that struck me as a truism. He said, ‘I think most Americans are tired of Republicans and Democrats talking about Republicans and Democrats.’ Most Americans, as Senator Scott's point was made, want us to solve problems. They want us to come up, not with the best answer possible, they want us to come up with the best possible answer.
“What's the difference in the best answer possible and the best possible answer? The difference is figuring out when you've gotten done as much as you can get done and you decide that in this process you want to accept that and come back at a later time and see if you can do a little better. They don't want us to reject a promising solution just because someone from the other party said it first. They don't want us to reject a promising solution just because it doesn't solve everything. …
“We think our job should be to, again, come up with the best solution we can come up with and try to do the job that we're sent here to do. Try not to wait and say, ‘well, we're too close to election.’ Apparently, we're too close to election all the time now.
“Never want to give away anything that could be a political issue because it's better, maybe in some minds, not to solve it than it is to solve it. Today's disappointing vote doesn't have to be final. The Majority Leader changed his vote at the very end. It was 56-54. Three Democrats and all of the Republicans wanting to move forward, but it takes 60 votes here to move forward. And by the way, Mr. President, it also takes 60 votes to get off the bill to have a vote.
“There was nothing to be lost by seeing if we couldn't make Senator Scott's bill better. In fact, I understand from his speech earlier, he agreed to 20 amendments that had the possibility to do that. And that's what we're supposed to do. We're here to vote. We're here to make decisions. We're here to move forward or to decide we don't want to move forward. There are times when a decision is we don't want to solve, this is not the right solution to this problem. That was not what we were dealing with today.
“Our colleagues in the House planned their own legislation. There was that moment of hope when the Speaker of the House said she looked forward to taking their product, their bill, to conference. Well, you only get to take a bill to conference if there's a conference. And you only get to take a bill to conference if we pass a bill and the House passes a bill. By the way, if they're exactly the same bill, there's no reason to go to conference. That bill goes to the president. We pass a bill, the House passes a bill, we go to conference, and then we come back. Forty-four of our colleagues were unwilling to go through that process. ..
“But again the House will pass a bill this week. And unless we reconsider this decision, that will be the end of it. That will be the end of it. The House has passed a bill. We're not going to take the House bill up. There's no Senate product to go to conference. That's the end of it.
“It is an issue that we need to find a solution to. It was an issue we needed to find a solution to after what happened in St. Louis in 2014. The dates seem to keep getting closer to where this year three things happened in a row, maybe more than three that shouldn't have happened. And things have happened since those three things that shouldn't have happened. We need to lead on this issue. We need to find a way to make a successful conclusion to the best we can do. And the best we can do today doesn't mean that's the best we can ever do. …
“Take 80% of what you want to do to conference, hope it comes back with 90% of what you want to do, or 96% of what you want to do. But if you don't trust the process, the process cannot produce a result. People are tired of us failing to do our job.
“We need to vote. We need to have amendments. We need to have bills on the floor on issues like this that the American people are in the streets of America saying, ‘solve this problem.’
“You can't solve this problem by turning your back on it. You can't solve this problem by saying, ‘if I don't get this exactly the way I want it, I’d rather not have anything.’ I'll tell you what that gets you. That gets you nothing.
“In a democracy, that does not work. If you're getting your way all the time, at home, at church, at school, at work, in the Congress, there is something wrong with you. There is something wrong with you. Nobody gets their way all the time. Compromise is the essence of democracy. You've got to be willing to go to the place where compromise happens.
“On this bill that would have been a conference to see if we can't come closer to a bill that everybody believes is the best we can do. I think Senator Scott did a great job with his bill. I think Senator Scott thinks his bill could be better. But his bill is not the House bill, and the House bill is not going to be the final bill either. What a mistake, Mr. President, to walk away from the chance to solve a problem.”