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Democrats seek to limit federal patrols in cities through coronavirus relief bill

The proposal would bar federal agents from patrolling cities without the permission of mayors and governors.

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that Democrats will push to add a provision to the next coronavirus relief package that would limit the Trump administration's efforts to send federal agents to patrol major cities.

Schumer, D-N.Y., said in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that the proposal, from Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., would require that police officers or federal officers identify themselves and where they work during interactions with protesters and that they not use unmarked vehicles.

The proposal would also say that while federal agents can be on federal property, they can't go up and down streets patrolling cities without permission from mayors and governors, Schumer said.

"We're going to try to get [it] into the COVID 4 bill," Schumer said, adding, "It has broad support within the Democratic caucus."

Democrats, however, say they're still waiting to come to the negotiating table with Republicans, who have delayed releasing their own coronavirus relief plan. Senate Republicans, after consulting with top White House officials, plan to release their measure Monday.

Violent clashes have erupted between protesters in Portland, Oregon, and federal agents sent to the city by the Trump administration. Protesters have accused federal officers of indiscriminately attacking them with tear gas and have said they have been detained and chased by the agents.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued the Department of Homeland Security this month over the federal intervention in Black Lives Matter protests. Last week, President Donald Trump said he would send federal law enforcement officers to Chicago to address the city's increase in violence, and he said he was considering dispatching them to other cities, as well.

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Schumer said Trump's decision to deploy the officers to cities is an attempt to "create a diversion" as "he's failing on testing, he's failing on the economy."

"What does he do? Does he do what a normal president should do — roll up his sleeves and try and solve those problems? No," Schumer said. "He creates a diversion that's nasty, that's divisive, and by the way, it won't work."