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Duckworth urges Congress to try police reform again after Tyre Nichols’ killing

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine the Highland Park attack, focusing on protecting from mass shootings, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 20, 2022.
Mariam Zuhaib
AP file
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine the Highland Park attack, focusing on protection from mass shootings, in July 2022.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth wants Congress to try again to pass police reform following the killing of Tyre Nichols at the hands of police in Memphis.

Illinois’ junior Democratic senator said she'd need to see a specific bill before deciding whether keeping legal immunity for officers would be a deal-breaker. That's where police reform talks broke down two years ago.

“Where the Republicans are in terms of qualified immunity, we’re going to have to see what they come to the table with, but I absolutely wholeheartedly endorse getting back to the negotiations and let’s pass something,” Duckworth said in an interview on WGLT's Sound Ideas.

Duckworth said she wants any reforms to include a required independent review of police-involved shootings.

Debt ceiling

Duckworth said the federal debt limit is not the place to talk about budget cuts. She said those are separate issues as the debt limit reflects money already committed.

“I’m happy to discuss all day long what we can cut, what we should preserve, all of those things, but we certainly should not be holding senior citizens on Medicare and veterans hostage because you suddenly decide you don’t want to pay your bills,” Duckworth said.

Republicans are using the debt ceiling as leverage to call for future spending reductions.

The U.S. Treasury is taking what it calls extraordinary measures to give lawmakers more time to avoid reaching a crisis point.

Retirement age

Duckworth said Social Security and Medicare should not be a starting point for budget talks.

Some House Republicans have suggested raising the retirement age to 70 and Medicare eligibility to 67. Duckworth suggested other places to cut the federal budget.

“Some of the places where we could actually cut our spending has to do with the freebies we give to large corporations, the freebies we give to the wealthiest, the freebies we give to pharmaceutical companies to make sure that we lower some of those costs,” Duckworth said.

Foreign Relations Committee

Duckworth said her military background will not be a big focus in her new role on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs when the Black Hawk helicopter she was flying was struck down in 2004, was recently elected to a second term in the U.S. Senate.

Duckworth said she wants to help the U.S. promote economic partnerships abroad.

“Things like expanding on the bipartisan CHIPS Act we passed last year to attract high-tech chip manufacturing to the United State and in particular to Illinois and the industrial Midwest,” said Duckworth, adding the U.S. economy is critical to national security.

Duckworth remains on the Senate Armed Services Committee. She said she supports the Biden administration's recent decision to arm Ukraine with battle tanks in its war against Russia.

Duckworth also serves on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.