After former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd, it appears that the United States Congress is pushing for the passage of some kind of police reform bill.
Hearings on policing have been held and there are people from both the Democratic and Republican sides in ongoing talks. By most metrics, Congress is in a comfortable position to pass some kind of bill intended to deter police brutality and prevent another George Floyd or Eric Garner.
But this is Congress in 2021. There have been many times when bipartisanship seemed high and failure seemed remote just before failure was certain. As a result, and despite the intense social recognition of racism that develops in the United States, there are few people who see the passage of significant new laws as a guaranteed result.
Yet people are talking. “I am optimistic that we are making progress. I’m sure I’m going to negotiate with the people at the table and no one else, ”Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said Thursday during a brief interview.
Scott’s comments came on a day when there was a wave of movement among top lawmakers who will have to be involved in passing some kind of compromise bill. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker led a committee hearing on police reform. California Congresswoman Karen Bass, who sponsored the unfortunate George Floyd Police Justice Act of 2020, participated in the early discussions with Scott and other members of Congress.
Scott had met with Bass on Thursday and said those talks went “well,” but did not elaborate or elaborate on a compromise bill.
Outside of Congress, high-profile lawmakers have called for passage of some kind of police bill.
Joe Biden has publicly urged Congress to make another attempt to pass a police reform bill.
“George Floyd was assassinated almost a year ago,” the president said in remarks from the White House, adding: “It shouldn’t take a whole year to do this.”
Republicans argued that the Democratic bill gave too much power and accountability at the federal level. So Scott, after being appointed as the key person in crafting a police reform bill by Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, pushed his own police reform bill in 2020 just to have Democrats. in the Senate. filibuster it. Scott’s bill proposed using federal grant funds to incentivize police departments to use body cameras and tactics to reduce situations.
But by the end of 2020, it looked like a police reform bill would remain in the legislative graveyard. Republicans refused to sign the Democrats’ surveillance bill, and Democrats viewed the Republican counter offer as a failure.
In March, after Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, the House approved George Floyd’s Police Act. But since then he has faced constant opposition from Republicans in the Senate. Legislation prohibits law enforcement from participating in racial profiling, prohibits stranglers and arrest warrants against beatings. It also creates a national police misconduct registry.
But April 2021 is too early to tell if this push for police reform is on the same trajectory as it was in 2020. The discussions, according to several congressional advisers, are in the early stages.
Scott’s presence at the table is important.
“McConnell and the conference trust Scott in general, and on this issue especially because of his past work,” said a former Senate Republican leadership chief of staff. “If there is going to be a bipartisan reform bill that really does go through this year, the conference is confident that he will reach a compromise that most of them will be able to support.”
Scott has indicated Areas of engagement, such as qualified immunity, where responsibility would lie with police departments rather than individual officers.
Talks about hot spots are not yet in full swing. However, Congressional leaders are fostering the first bipartisan talks. However, all legislators will say that early progress is being made.
“Look, I’ve encouraged Senator Booker to talk to Senator Scott and see if they can think of something. They are progressing. I’m not going to go into the details of their discussions, ”said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. “But if we could come up with a robust bill that addresses this systemic bias that has been in our police forces for far too long, that would be great. So I encouraged them to talk to each other, and their discussions are progressing. “