Bipartisan police reform negotiations spurred by George Floyd’s death collapse in Congress

Sen. Cory Booker said there was no "meaningful progress," when it came to police reform talks

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The bipartisan push for federal police reform in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder has collapsed in Congress.

Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Tim Scott, Rep. Karen Bass, and other lawmakers have been working together to form a consensus that would see legislation enacted to increase accountability for police officers for months. The measures would include restricting certain practices, training and more transparency for officers, and limiting qualified immunity.

However, sources told CBS News that the talks have been abandoned. Sen. Booker confirmed the impasse Wednesday in a statement.  

Lead bill negotiators (from left) Rep. Karen Bass, Sen. Tim Scott and Sen. Cory Booker speak briefly to reporters as they exit the office of Rep. James Clyburn following a meeting about police reform legislation. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“Unfortunately, even with this law enforcement support and further compromises we offered, there was still too wide a gulf with our negotiating partners and we faced significant obstacles to securing a bipartisan deal,” the New Jersey Democrat said.

Booker added that there was no “meaningful progress,” on the most critical matters.

“The effort from the very beginning was to get police reform that would raise professional standards, police reform that would create a lot more transparency, and then police reform that would create accountability, and we’re not able to come to agreements on those three big areas,” Booker said.

Sen. Scott said in a statement that the negotiators involved met Tuesday to discuss the measures.

“We’re trying to figure out whether we are going to find solutions to the language that we’re discussing, not the issues that we’re discussing,” he said.

George Floyd
People carry posters with George Floyd on them as they march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that President Biden would be in consultation with his inner circle about the way forward after the stalemate.

“I can convey to you that in the coming weeks, we’re going to consult the president, we will all, our team, will consult with members of Congress, the law enforcement and civil rights communities, and victims’ families to discuss a path forward, including potential executive actions the president can take to make sure we live up to the American ideal of equality and justice under law,” she said.

Rep. Bass, who wrote the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, welcomed possible executive action.

“We don’t have any particular faith or hope that we will be able to get reforms passed the Senate,” Rep. Bass told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Bass also said in a statement that the Black community expected necessary change to law enforcement.

“But every time, more was demanded to the point that there would be no progress made in the bill that we were left discussing,” she said, The Detroit Free Press reported. “With our counterparts unwilling to come to a compromise, we have no other option than to explore further avenues to stop police brutality in this country. I will not ask our community to wait another 200 days.”

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is also representing Floyd’s family, wanted the matter to be forced on the floor of Congress.

“I think we need to force it to the floor. I think the families deserve a vote,” he told CBS News.

Derek Chauvin George Floyd
Former MPD officer Derek Chauvin (left) and George Floyd (right), the man he and three fellow policemen face trials for killing. (Twitter/Ben Crump Law)

The formal recognition of the failed talks is a culmination of months of both sides being unable to address the issue of police brutality which came into the public consciousness following the death of Floyd on Memorial Day 2020. Floyd was killed by then Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin who placed a knee on his neck for more than 8 minutes.

Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd in April, theGrio previously reported. President Biden expressed a desire that legislation would arrive to mark the first-year anniversary of his death in May — but the date came and went.

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