U.S. Rep. Tom Reed said Tuesday he was disappointed with the police reform bill introduced by the House Democratic leadership.
“I am disappointed the speaker is leading a one-house party bill to address the extremism that has taken over the party,” Reed, R-Corning, told reporters during his weekly media call.
The 23rd District congressman said the bill would cause police officers “to have to call their lawyers as they confront a hostile issue.”
Reed said the House Democrats’ rush to pass legislation in the wake of the Minneapolis death 16 days ago of George Floyd and the continuing demonstrations in cities across the country protesting police brutality is “a huge missed opportunity.”
Reed said he wasn’t sure Democrats could get 218 votes on the House floor to pass the bill. Even if it passes in the House, it won’t get taken up in the Senate or signed by President Trump.
The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which Reed co-chairs, has proposed items that could be signed into law instead of the “embarrassing extremism that is taking over politics today.”
Reed referred to a proposal by the Minneapolis City Council that would do away with the police department as an example of extremism. “You are still going to have bad people out there.”
Reed said he walked in protests over the past week and took part in Zoom video conferences on the issues surrounding Floyd’s killing, after three Minneapolis police officers held him down, with one of them pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck as he said he could not breathe.
“We need to shed the Democratic and Republican labels and stay in a room and find common ground,” Reed said. “Extremists on the left seem to be getting the most attention in the House. We need to take on racial justice and come out stronger as a nation and implement necessary reforms. We need to work together to go after the bad actors.”
Reed said he saw “kernels of hope” and “some areas of common ground” regarding police reforms that could get 60 votes in the Senate and be signed by the president. He reminded reporters that Trump had signed a major piece of criminal justice law last year and Congress should be able to “cobble together a piece of legislation that can actually get signed into law.”
Reed said that instead of the “defunding” of police, enhanced funding should be made available to police departments for using best practices. In addition, an “anti-lynching bill” should be able to be passed easily.
“I would hope (Speaker Nancy Pelosi) would now move to a compromise” mode on the police reform bill,” Reed said.
“We want to make sure police have resources, not penalize them,” Reed said. “We should recognize those officers engaged in positive community-based policing.”
On another topic, Reed said he hoped a Phase 4 stimulus bill that would address the loss of revenue by state and local governments due to the coronavirus would be considered in mid-June.
“We want to make sure the next package is based on real-time data,” Reed said. As states begin reopening, economic opportunities will drive down unemployment and lift up sales taxes, he said.
Asked about Trump’s tweet on Monday suggesting Martin Gugino, the elderly man shoved to the ground in Niagara Square by Buffalo police last week was a member of antifa, an anti-fascist conspiracy group, Reed said he would reiterate to the president these times call for empathy.
“The video was very troubling,” Reed said. “But law enforcement was put in a difficult position.”
Reed said he did not support the use of U.S. military to control peaceful protesters, but does “support utilizing police and the National Guard to stop any looting in our communities. The military should not be deployed in that sense.”
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)