UPDATED 11:04 AM PT — Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a Senate resolution that would have condemned President Trump’s visit to D.C.’s St. John’s Episcopal Church and the clearing off of protesters around the White House perimeter.
The resolution was submitted Tuesday by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for unanimous consent, which does not require a full vote in the Senate. However, it can be blocked by any single member of the chamber.
“I ask unanimous consent the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of a concurrent resolution expressing the sense of the Congress that the constitutional rights of Americans must be respected, that violence and looting are unlawful and unacceptable and that Congress condemns the President for ordering federal officers to use gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.,” said Schumer.
McConnell blocked its passage, clarifying he did so because it did not focus on the issues on the minds of most Americans. Those said issues are racial justice and police brutality. Instead, he chose to put the spotlight on the White House’s specific response to protesters.
“Unfortunately, this resolution from my friend the democratic leader, does not address either one of them,”said the Kentucky Republican. “Instead, it just indulges in the myopic obsession with President Trump that has come to define the democratic side of the aisle.
McConnell also put forward his own resolution, blocked in turn by Schumer, which called for an immediate crackdown on violent riots. This is something he called a necessary condition to allow the demands of peaceful protesters to be heard.
Regarding these, the Senate majority leader expressed support for the indignation that has ensued following George Floyd’s death by calling these grievances legitimate and echoing nationwide calls for reform.
While commenting on specific legislative options available to lawmakers seeking to promote justice in the face of events such as those that caught the nation’s attention last week, McConnell asserted his commitment to carry out the necessary work while remarking on the complexity of the issue at hand.
“This is a vexing issue….if we could have figured out exactly what to do, I think we’d have done it years ago,” he stated. “It’s one of our continuing, persistent problems in our society that we are all acutely aware of and searching for answers.”
Indeed, McConnell stated in his view the legacy of racism constitutes a long-standing issue in American society and one that presents an enduring challenge in the quest for a just and free society.
“There is no question that there is residual racism in America…not in dispute,” he continued. “It’s been a longtime dilemma and we all wish we could get to a better place.”