WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Democrats on Tuesday readied a measure condemning President Donald Trump for the tear-gassing of peaceful protesters at the White House, while one Republican voiced outright criticism of the president’s behavior.
Senate Democrats said they would seek unanimous consent for the measure, affirming the constitutional right to peaceful assembly. Majority Republicans were expected to block it.
“Congress condemns the President of the United States for ordering federal officers to use gas and rubber bullets against the Americans who were peaceably protesting,” the resolution states.
Meanwhile, the Democratic-led House of Representatives neared a decision on separate legislation responding to the murder of George Floyd.
On Monday, federal officials cleared protesters just before Trump marched through to pose outside a boarded-up church while clutching a Bible. That and Trump’s threat to deploy federal troops to quell unrest in has deepened outrage among protesters.
Republican Senator Ben Sasse criticized Trump’s move.
“I’m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop,” Sasse, who is running for re-election, said in a statement.
Protests have swept U.S. cities for days since the killing of Floyd, a black man who died as a white Minneapolis policeman kneeled on his neck.
Senator Tim Scott, a black South Carolina Republican, dismissed fears of military action.
“The importance of having order in our communities is an absolutely essential component of us being able to have justice for Mr. Floyd,” he told reporters.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump ally, expressed reservations about using the military.
“That should be our last resort,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats were likely to push legislation to end racial profiling by police. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called for passage of law enforcement reform by July 4.
Reporting by Richard Cowan, Susan Cornwell, Patricia Zengerle, David Morgan and Susan Heavey; Editing by Scott Malone, Richard Chang and David Gregorio