Police reform could happen if Dems sort out this one issue: Sen. Kennedy
Louisiana Senator John Kennedy discusses potential police reform from President Biden as crime spikes around the U.S.
President Biden is expected to host the family of George Floyd at the White House on Tuesday – though Congress is poised to miss Biden’s deadline of getting the federal police reform bill with Floyd’s namesake passed by the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis officer.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, originally introduced last June, passed the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in March by a 220-212 vote. Though championed by civil rights groups, the wide-sweeping bill has so far stalled in the 50-50 split Senate, as Democrats and Republicans have continued negotiations on various points of contention, including no-knock warrants and chokeholds.
Biden, during his first address to a joint session of Congress on April 29, took the recent conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on murder and manslaughter charges in Floyd’s death as a green light to call on Congress to pass police reform in Floyd’s name by May 25.
“My fellow Americans, we have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system, and to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that passed the House already,” Biden said during his address.
“I know Republicans have their own ideas and are engaged in the very productive discussions with Democrats in the Senate,” he added. “We need to work together to find a consensus. But let’s get it done next month, by the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki recognized Friday that it would be unlikely that Congress pass the federal police reform by Tuesday deadline but stressed that “the negotiators, by all accounts, are continuing to make progress.”
“They’re continuing to have good discussions, and that is a positive sign,” she said. “We are not going to slow our — slow our efforts to get this done, but we can also be transparent about the fact that it’s going to take a little bit more time — that sometimes that happens and that’s okay.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who’s leading the GOP negotiations on the legislation, has said another issue under discussion is Section 1033, which involves government equipment from the military for local police. The bill also seeks to set limits on qualified immunity shielding police from civil lawsuits, creates a framework to prevent racial profiling and establishes a national registry on allegations of police misconduct.
Last July, Democrats in the Senate rejected a similar GOP-backed police reform bill introduced by Scott, arguing the proposed legislation did not go far enough to address racial inequality.
The George Floyd Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Floyd’s sister, Bridgett Floyd, is asking people to contact their federal representatives Monday as part of a “day of action” to urge them to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act by the first anniversary of his death.
The foundation is hosting several events in Minneapolis this week, including two panels with the families and other activists Monday followed by a community festival and candlelight vigil Tuesday.
Executive director Jacari Harris said the group has received donations from the Minneapolis Foundation, Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation and athletic shoe and apparel retailer Finish Line, among others. Despite large grants from corporations and other organizations, Harris said the average donation to the nonprofit was $47. Harris said the group has also funded an initiative in Fayetteville, N.C., where Floyd was born, to help reduce homelessness, a scholarship program for law school students and an internship program at Texas A&M University, where Floyd went to school.
Fox News’ Thomas Barrabi and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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