Biden ‘frustrated’ over stalled civil rights bills critical for Black America

EXCLUSIVE: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki gave insight into the president's mood when theGrio inquired about his support for police reform and voting rights, as well as strengthening the Civil Rights Act of 1866

President Joe Biden is said to be “frustrated” over what some call the collapse of the current police reform negotiations and a stall on voting rights legislation on Capitol Hill. Sources inside the Biden-Harris administration, however, say the White House is closely watching the movement and anticipating positive outcomes in present negotiations in hopes that the legislative packages will be passed.

U.S. President Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during an event commemorating LGBTQ+ Pride Month in the East Room of the White House on June 25, (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would reform police departments nationwide, as well as the voting rights bills, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and For The People Act, are largely seen as crucial pieces of legislation that would address racial inequities that critically impact Black and brown communities.

Sources also note that Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, given the evenly divided Senat, holds the keys as to whether voting rights and police reform will succeed or fail in the upper chamber.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki gave insight into the president’s mood when theGrio inquired during Tuesday’s press briefing about his support for strengthening another policy issue critical to racial equity: the oldest federal civil rights law, the Civil Rights Act of 1866

Psaki told theGrio that the administration is “appreciative of the efforts of the leaders that are working to update the oldest Civil Rights law.”

If leaders are able to implement the changes they hope for, the threshold for proving racism at the United States Supreme Court would be reduced from a 100% threshold to a much lower burden of proof.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries thinks this law is critical for Americans seeking real justice in the courtroom.  

“This is an important step in dealing with some of the adverse Supreme Court decisions that have undermined the ability of people whose civil rights [have] been violated,” Jeffries said. “It’s unacceptable that the current interpretation is but for racial animus and discriminatory intent being the only factor in a decision to engage in economic discrimination, then there is no civil rights violation. That’s an inappropriate standard.”

New York Congressman Mondaire Jones is one of the sponsors of the effort in the U.S. House and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is a sponsor in the U.S. Senate.

Congressman Jones said he introduced the legislation in the House, “to ensure that people of color, including Black people, cannot be discriminated against in the full range of commercial activity.” 

Rep. Mondaire Jones,
Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) speaks during a press conference in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to announce legislation to expand the number of seats on the Supreme Court on April 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

He cautions that the discrimination he wants to curb is “not just in contracts, which is language in the original statute.” Jones also wants the law to even apply to when people are “racially profiled in shopping centers.” 

“We don’t want people to be denied the ability to engage in other forms of economic activity,” Jones told theGrio.

Jones acknowledged he would have never imagined the level of racism and discrimination that presently exists in a 21st century United States.

“We face a rise in racism in this country,” Marc Morial told theGrio. He contends complacency and tolerance of bigotry during the Trump administration years allowed for the advancement of racism. “America would look and say ‘oh yeah, that’s one state in the south,” said Morial. “Normalizing racism and division in this country is a formula.”

American flag Black Lives Matter,
Pilomena Wankenge of the DC Freedom Fighters waves an American flag to a crowd gathered at the John A. Wilson Building during a protest against police brutality and racism on June 6, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

To ensure the moment is met, Jones said he’s committed to “educating [his] colleagues about this legislation and the importance of it continuing to grow the number of co-sponsors and then ultimately getting a floor vote.” 

The chances for passage in the House are better there than in the Senate. However, Jones is not sure there will be a passage in the 117th Congress. 

Psaki revealed from the White House podium this week that President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will have opportunities this week to “advocate for and push for use at every level of government to move those invitations [voting rights and policing reform] forward.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download today!