House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy came on Inside the Issues to discuss reopening schools, police reform, and preserving monuments.
Health officials and political leaders are conflicted as to whether or not schools should reopen this fall.
Rep. McCarthy said a reopening plan needs to be put in place for schools across the nation before kids are back on school grounds.
“We want to make sure it's safe, and I believe there's a way we can do that, and that's one of the things that Congress should be working on,” Rep. McCarthy said. “Part of our work should be focusing on making sure not if schools will open, but how they'll open. Right now people are just shutting them down. I want to put a plan together, and in the right phase that they can open back up. Parts of the country can, other parts may not be able to. But we can make sure that we have the safety to do it in the right manner.”
He said teachers and administrators are put at risk by returning to school.
“Is there a plexiglass that could go up in front of the class where the teacher could speak from? Would the students need to be kept inside, keep the lunch inside, and also keep the students together not moving from classes? Well those things need to be discussed now and a plan needs to be written, much better than saying nothing should be done. We cannot have a generation where they’re not [educated],” Rep. McCarthy said.
The ethics of law enforcement have been called into question after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a now former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. In response, members of Congress passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Rep. McCarthy did not vote on it.
“I would look at a couple different things. We need to make sure that we have transparency and accountability. We also need to make sure that bad cops cannot stay in the process,” Rep. McCarthy said. “I’m one who believes there has to be more funding; there has to be better training. How do we train to de-escalate? We have to have more funding because I believe all officers should have a video camera. I think if we took away immunity, there would be a severe problem here that good officers would leave.”
Rep. McCarthy said no one wants bad cops out of police departments more than good cops.
“When you look at the bill that Tim Scott and myself worked on, about 80 percent of that was inside the Democrat bill. Unfortunately, no amendments were allowed. And on the Senate side, it wasn’t even allowed to come up with debate even though they would allow debates on the Senate side. So you can’t find a compromise unless you allow the process to work and unless you allow amendments to be voted on,” Rep. McCarthy said. “Maybe you don’t like the amendment idea. At least give the opportunity for it to be voted, because that’s how you would come together.”
Rep. McCarthy hasn’t given up on creating a bipartisan police reform bill.
“I have worked with Karen Bass. I’ve worked with some other Democrats, and we're trying to find a way that we can find a compromise that the Democrat leadership would not allow happen on the house floor, and if we do, maybe that could become law,” he said.
Rep. McCarthy said de-escalation training can’t happen and body cameras can’t be acquired without more funding going to police departments.
“I don’t know how you get video cameras on officers unless you provide funding for it. I’m not sure how you train an officer to de-escalate. I know there are challenges to how to remove a bad officer, let’s take for instance: George Floyd should be alive today. His family deserves justice. But what happened in that instance is that officer… it wasn't the first time that he was doing something wrong. He had 17 other instances that he did something wrong. Why does it take that long, and why is that officer still in the job? Well that's where our bill comes in, where it allows an ability for people to oversee that, to be able to remove somebody, not waiting 17 times.”
On June 16, President Donald Trump issued an executive order for the Attorney General to “create a database to coordinate the sharing of information between and among Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies concerning instances of excessive use of force related to law enforcement matters, accounting for applicable privacy and due process rights.”
Rep. McCarthy supports the creation of a nationwide police database.
“If an officer leaves, and it’s difficult to remove somebody, when you take that instance and they may have to make it a negotiation with them and take the record away, will they go to another department? That other department does not know that's happening. So what we have in the federal government from the attorney general, you'll have a database for that,” Rep. McCarthy said.
People have been tearing down statues across the nation. Rep. McCarthy said there’s a process to remove monuments, and people shouldn’t take that into their own hands.
“When it comes to rule of law, there's a lot of statues that offend me as well. There's a process to remove it, and let’s walk through that process because we have order in it. But the idea that George Washington, the idea that Thomas Jefferson, that Saint Sarah, that Christopher Columbus, the idea that U.S. General Grant was removed, or Frederick Douglass statue, do you not believe that the mob has gone beyond the belief of what some people have said of why? And that's why I think it needs to have order,” Rep. McCarthy said.
In another executive order released by President Trump on June 26, he wrote, “Individuals and organizations have the right to peacefully advocate for either the removal or the construction of any monument. But no individual or group has the right to damage, deface, or remove any monument by use of force.” The executive order states that the U.S. can prosecute under federal law anyone who “destroys, damages, vandalizes, or desecrates a monument, memorial, or statue within the United States or otherwise vandalizes government property.”
“I want to work together with all to make a more perfect union, and there is a process if we want to remove something. It’s not where a mob comes in and tears something down,” Rep. McCarthy said.
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