With clock ticking, policing negotiators struggle to close deal

The fate of a bipartisan deal overhauling policing looks increasingly dim with the August recess looming in just a matter of days.

The two sides have traded offers for months and so far there is no indication they are any closer to a deal than when they announced a framework just more than a month ago in a joint statement.

“In my opinion — months and months and months is a sign that you’re either wasting time or making progress,” Sen. Tim Scott, lead GOP negotiator said this week. “I feel like we’ve been making progress and we either bring this ship home here before we leave or I don’t see how it survives August just politically speaking.”

Scott has said he wants to see bill language before the Senate leaves for its scheduled recess on August 6.

“I’ve set no deadlines this entire time, you gotta ask Tim (Scott)” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, one of the primary Democratic negotiators on the bill, told CNN when asked what it would mean if the group does not have bill language before they leave.

“I’m going to work on this as long as I’ve got a partner to work with on it,” Booker added.

“If they’re stuck next week at the same place they are today, maybe he’ll just throw his hands up and say forget it,” California Rep. Karen Bass, another key negotiator for the Democrats, said of Scott. “But if they’re actually moving along and reaching some agreement on some issues, then I don’t’ think he’ll throw in his towel.”

Publicly, Booker and Scott continue to say progress is being made, but there have been no major public breakthroughs since Scott, Booker and Bass released a joint statement at the end of June announcing a framework for a deal.

“Republicans continue to move the goalposts in the negotiation, making a deal all the more difficult,” a Democratic source familiar with the negotiations told CNN when asked what is causing talks to drag on.

A Republican source familiar with negotiations disputes this, saying it is not true. Scott did not respond when asked by CNN if this was true.

“I don’t know that I would say moving the goalposts. At some point people just need to make a decision,” Bass said when asked if she agreed with the idea Republicans are moving the goalposts. “Making a decision means you just settle in and say this might be hard, but this is what I’m going to agree to, moving the goalposts means you keep changing what you’re agreeing to.”

Bass said she’s waiting on Republicans to make a decision.

Scott and Booker have met regularly since the Senate came back in early July and talk frequently as they try to get to a deal. Still, Sen. Lindsey Graham, also a Republican from South Carolina, said this week “there’s several things” that remain unresolved. One of those issues is qualified immunity which protects police officers from civil lawsuits.

Democrats originally wanted to end qualified immunity while Scott offered a compromise that would have put the responsibility on police departments. “I think we have to continue to find a space of common ground that is as large as possible before surrendering anything,” Scott said when asked if the negotiators should simply put together a bill including the issues on which they agree.

“I think there’s been like the same group of issues that we’ve been circling around and so hopefully we’ll meet with Scott tomorrow to find out where he is,” Bass said on Thursday.

Scott and Booker have publicly bristled at any suggestion the talks are not progressing forward with Scott recently tweeting a photo of the two working calling the scene “pretty lively.” When asked if negotiations had stalled last week, Booker said “I don’t think talks have been stalled when I spent more than two hours with Tim yesterday working on the details, moving the bill forward.”

“So there’s progress being made, not as fast as anyone wants including the key principals in this. So, we’re gonna continue working,” he added.

“I do think that you would have a meaningful piece of legislation if you focus specifically on things that we have in common and gave ourselves a little breathing room for the things that we don’t, but we’re not there yet. We’re going to keep working on what we’re working on and hopefully we get that,” Scott told CNN.

Bass said now, it’s Booker and Scott “primarily discussing,” adding she’s made it known she’s available “24/7” as they move through that process.

The-CNN-Wire
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