Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the lone black Republican member of the U.S. Senate, played a sample of the racist messages he and his staff have received during a closed-door lunch meeting Tuesday with other Republican senators, Politico reported.
Scott has been tasked with leading the Republican police reform effort in the wake of recent police killings of black individuals and the resulting racial justice protests across the nation.
What did the messages say? One of the messages included a person calling Scott "Uncle Tim," a play on the racist "Uncle Tom" insult, and saying Scott was the "lowest piece of s**t this country ever produced."
A second message Scott played was filled with profanity and had been left with Scott's staff assistant after the assistant hung up on the person for their refusal to stop cursing.
How did the GOP colleagues react? "Shocked to learn at lunch about hateful messages to Sen. Tim Scott, our leader of police reform, from people who think somehow a black Republican can't lead this effort because only Democrats are qualified to talk about race/police reform," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote on Twitter. "We all have a responsibility to be kind even when we disagree!"
Shocked 2learn at lunch abt hateful msgs to Sen Tim Scott our ldr of police reform from ppl who must think somehow… https://t.co/QA3l2qYNKy— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley)1592945336.0
How is police reform going? Democrats have so far rejected the Republican police reform proposal, preferring to push for more dramatic measures and accusing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of not operating in a bipartisan manner with the negotiations.
Scott said there is enough common ground between the different proposals that lawmakers should not let this moment go to waste without enacting some reforms.
"Why am I so passionate about this issue beyond my 18 stops as a person of color?" Scott said, according to Politico. "In my legislation and the Republican Senate legislation and the House legislation there is so much common ground and to lose this moment for the kids and the young adults watching this process would be terrible."
The Republican bill proposes withholding federal money from law enforcement agencies that don't ban chokeholds, and providing funding for the purchase of body cameras. It would create a national database for use-of-force incidents, and create financial incentives for departments to report officer-involved deaths to the FBI.
Democrats want much more than that, including an end to qualified immunity. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) called Scott's bill "half-assed." After Democrats blocked the GOP bill in the Senate on Wednesday, some senators believe the issue might be dead for the year.
"There probably is no path forward in this Congress if they block debate tomorrow," GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said, according to CNN.