GOP Sen. John Thune Confirms Senate Will Take 2-Week Recess Without Deal on Policing Bill

The Senate's No. 2 GOP leader John Thune confirmed the Senate will take a two-week recess without reaching a bipartisan deal on a policing bill.

GOP negotiator Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina set a "June or bust" goal on reaching a deal on revamping policing practices and holding officers accountable over misconduct. President Joe Biden initially set a deadline for lawmakers on May 25, the date when George Floyd, who is Black, died after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin put a knee to his neck in 2020.

"It's just nailing down the final details, and there are a couple of red lines for our guys," Thune told reporters about the stalling of reaching a deal.

Senators are divided on issues such as whether and how to enforce civil penalties on individual cops accused of abuses, according to those familiar with the deal's discussions, the Associated Press reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

U.S. Sen. John Thune
U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) speaks to reporters after a Republican Senate luncheon at the U.S. Capitol Building on June 15, 2021, in Washington, DC. Thune confirmed the Senate will take a two-week recess without reaching a bipartisan deal on a policing bill. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Congressional bargainers are likely to miss their deadline for completing the bipartisan deal, people familiar with the talks said Thursday, 13 months after Floyd's killing and with the shadow of next year's elections lengthening over Congress' work.

The Senate was expected to leave town for a two-week recess after Thursday's session without a final compromise, according to two Democratic aides who described the status of talks on condition of anonymity.

A last-minute turnaround was possible, or negotiators could continue their efforts once Congress returns next month from a recess.

But a failure to nail down a full agreement Thursday on legislation aimed at curbing the use of force by police and making them more accountable for abuses would be a blow to lawmakers' efforts to address an issue that has roiled the country since last year. Bargainers have already spent months trying to resolve differences, reflecting the complex web of issues and political imperatives that have prevented congressional action so far.

According to people familiar with the talks, one of the most divisive issues has been whether to make it easier to bring criminal cases against officers for excessive use of force.

Chauvin has since been convicted in Floyd's killing.

The further into the year the talks remain unresolved, the more next year's elections for congressional control will make bipartisan cooperation harder. Efforts to curb police practices are entwined with public concerns about race and crime, and all are potent, emotional issues for both parties to use as they appeal to their most ardent base voters.

Floyd's death ignited racial justice protests across the country, was a campaign issue during President Donald Trump's failed reelection bid and prompted debates over crime and authorities' use of force that rage still. An agreement would let each party assert it's addressed a consuming national problem, while a stalemate would let each blame the other and fuel next year's campaigns for control of Congress.

The talks have been closely watched by powerful outside groups representing police and sheriff organizations, civil rights organizations and Floyd's relatives, who have attracted frequent media attention and had meetings with Biden and members of Congress.

The Democratic-led House approved a wide-ranging bill overhaul in March that's gone nowhere in the 50-50 Senate, with Republicans arguing it goes too far. Democrats blocked a Senate GOP measure last year, saying it was too weak.

Other provisions would curb police use of chokeholds, bolster national data systems of complaints against officers and limit the types of military equipment that police departments can obtain.

Scott cast the talks in optimistic tones Wednesday.

"We're going to have to now check the definitions and the language that we're all putting on paper to make sure that we're all saying the exact same thing. But I don't think there's outstanding issues that need to be worked out," he said.

Others were more cautious.

"I have remained a prisoner of hope through this whole process," said Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., his party's chief bargainer. "We've gone over language from the beginning. It's nothing new."

Sen. Tim Scott
In this May 27, 2021, file photo Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., arrives as senators go to the chamber for votes ahead of the approaching Memorial Day recess, at the Capitol in Washington. Congressional bargainers are likely to blow past their latest deadline without completing a bipartisan deal for overhauling police practices, three people familiar with the talks said Thursday, June 24, 13 months after George Floyd’s killing and with the shadow of next year’s elections lengthening over Congress’ work. J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo