POLITICO Playbook: Doug Jones’ new ad, and Dems readying to block police reform

Current Work | Tue, 06/23/2020 at 02:52 PM

(POLITICO) – Playbook Sneak Peek: Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) is going up on statewide television with his first TV ad: a new 30-second, straight-to-camera TV spot about racial justice. Jones’ most recent polling has him in a tight race with Tommy Tuberville, the likely GOP candidate.

SCRIPT: “As he lay dying, George Floyd cried for his mama and pleaded for his life: ‘I can’t breathe.’ As we witnessed his death together, the world changed. Across Alabama, folks are struggling with seeing this injustice and inequality and wanting to see that end. We cannot let this moment pass. The road to racial justice has taken far too long -- but it’s a journey that we must make, and we must make it together. Come join me. I’m Doug Jones and I approve this message.” The spot

DEMS GETTING READY TO BLOCK POLICE OVERHAUL … THE QUESTION LINGERING for the past week was whether Senate Minority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER would agree to allow a debate on the GOP police reform bill, authored by Sen. TIM SCOTT (R-S.C.). DEMOCRATS don’t much like the bill, but SCHUMER has left open the possibility that he may allow for a debate and amendment process in the hopes of getting a deal. Speaker NANCY PELOSI signaled she wanted the Senate to take it up, so the two chambers could enter into formal negotiations.

BUT NOW, Democrats’ body language indicates they are going to block debate, which, in Republicans’ view, hands them a talking point on a silver platter.

BURGESS EVERETT reported Monday night that Senate Democrats were “strongly signaling they will filibuster Republicans’ police reform bill later this week absent more concessions from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

SEVERAL SENATE DEMOCRATS flagged Monday evening that the NAACP Legal Defense Fund urged Dems to oppose the bill Wednesday.

ON MONDAY AT AROUND 6 P.M., SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-Ill.), the party’s whip, told a small clutch of us reporters in the Capitol that “there’s no clarity” on what MCCONNELL is offering -- in other words, Democrats want a commitment on how many amendments they would get to offer if they did agree to debate, and they are not getting it.

DURBIN said he has faced “similar offers” from MCCONNELL in the past, most notably when Democrats voted against debating the CARES Act -- the large-scale Covid-19 stimulus bill. “The best thing that happened was we didn’t accept his offer, we demanded a bipartisan approach to it,” DURBIN said, referring to the negotiations between the White House and Senate Democrats.

BUT, BUT, BUT … POLICE REFORM isn’t the CARES Act. The White House and Senate Republicans are not inclined to jump into a bipartisan negotiation with Democrats if they block this bill from debate. The administration privately says it feels confident in its position on police reform, especially after the executive order it issued. So if Democrats block debate, this process probably comes to a screeching halt.

REPUBLICANS in the administration and on the Hill are ready to scream from the hilltops that it was Democrats who blocked police reform on the Senate floor. EXPECT MCCONNELL to use his post-GOP lunch news conference to wallop Democrats for blocking this. Expect DEMS to say MCCONNELL is offering them a take-it-or-leave-it proposition that they cannot accept, and they should sit down to negotiate a compromise.

THE HOUSE will vote Thursday on its police overhaul, and Republicans say they believe as many as a dozen of their lawmakers may vote with Democrats to pass the bill. TRUMP opposes the House bill, and the Senate will have nothing to do with it. Sure, it’s better for the GOP to stand unified against the Dem legislation, but it would seem laughably nonsensical for Republicans to expend any effort to whip their troops against it. (In fact, there’s an argument that it’s helpful for some moderate Republicans to have something to vote on.)

(Anna Palmer and Jake ShermanPOLITICO