White House remains optimistic for George Floyd police reform legislation

Politics

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden will not meet his self-imposed deadline of the anniversary of George Floyd’s death to sign legislation on police reform.

Instead, to mark the day, he will host a private meeting at the White House with the Floyd family, including George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna.

The president’s spokeswoman explained the administration is staying “very engaged” on talks in Congress but giving them room to work.

“The president is still very much hopeful that he will be able to sign the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act into law,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “We’re certainly hopeful that activism, that engagement, will help move this across the finish line.”

The White House downplayed missing the deadline but said the president spoke with Senator Cory Booker Friday. He’s one of the lawmakers leading negotiations on the legislation, which is stuck in the Senate, along with Republican Senator Tim Scott and Congresswoman Karen Bass.

Together, they put out a statement, stating in part, “This anniversary serves a painful reminder of why we must make meaningful change…We are still working through our differences on key issues…And remain optimistic about the prospects of achieving that goal.”

The major stumbling block preventing passage is qualified immunity, which protects officers from being sued personally for their actions on the job. A change would make it easier to prosecute police.

“I want that to be part of the bill, but I also don’t want to allow perfect to be the enemy of the good. I want to make progress,” said Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy.

The legislation also aims to ban chokeholds and create a national police misconduct registry so that fired officers cannot be hired by another department.

Republicans, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, continue to cite a roughly 25% rise in violent crime across the country last year as a need to instead hire more officers and strengthen police forces.

“Violent crime shot up dramatically in 2020,” said McConnell. “Adequate policing is not an enemy of civil rights.”

Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who representing families and victims of police abuse in high profile cases, says there is no time to lose.

“George Floyd doesn’t represent a culmination of anything, but I believe the tip of the spear,” said Merritt. “Every day that we delay meaningful reform, more lives are lost.”

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