House Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to police chokeholds as “a lynching” Monday evening and said she’s confident Republican lawmakers will agree to ban them.
Her comments come as Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are working to advance two competing police reform bills, with the Democratic legislation going further in several respects by banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants. White House officials have been coordinating with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the sole black Republican senator, who is spearheading the GOP’s legislative effort.
“I can’t imagine they wouldn’t have a ban on chokeholds. Let’s get reasonable,” Pelosi told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.”
“A chokehold is a lynching. That’s a strangulation. It’s a lynching. I think that is almost like the lowest common denominator, but again I will leave it up to my negotiators, because as you know in a negotiation, it’s not what’s in or out, it’s the sum total of the different impact that the legislation will have in justice and policing.”
The negotiations over police reform follow weeks of national unrest over police brutality and racism that began after the death of George Floyd.
The gruesome video of Floyd’s killing while in police custody at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer has prompted the kind of soul searching about the role of police in society and systemic racism in the criminal justice system that many advocates have urged for decades.
Still, senior Senate Republicans signaled on Monday that the chamber will likely have to wait at least a month to take up policing overhaul legislation.
GOP leaders suggested that there is little time for the Senate to take up the bill, given that other major priorities – such as an annual defense bill – are bound to eat up precious floor time and since the policing bill has yet to be officially introduced.
Republicans suggested it was unlikely the bill could move before a two-week Fourth of July recess, meaning July 20 would be the soonest such a plan could be considered.
The House, which operates by majority rules and can move legislation much quicker than the Senate, plans to take up and pass the Democratic bill next week.
In the meantime, President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday to establish a national certification system for law enforcement agencies and a database to better track excessive uses of force by police officers nationwide, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
While Trump signaled last week that he may support outlawing chokeholds, the executive order is not expected to direct an outright ban.
Reacting to the President’s approach Monday, Pelosi said people should “look at what we are talking about here.”
“Let’s do the best we can, not the minimum that we can in this,” she said. “This is about justice.”
CNN’s Manu Raju, Clare Foran, Jeremy Diamond and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.