Joe Biden will use next week’s address to Congress to push the George Floyd police legislation that would ban chokeholds and pare back immunity for cops
- Biden pledged to push the bill when George Floyd lawyer Ben Crump brought it up Tuesday
- ‘You got it pal. That and a lot more,’ Biden promised
- White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would pitch the bill during his speech to a joint meeting of Congress next Wednesday
- Plans to use his ‘bully pulpit’ to press on the issue
- George Floyd bill passed the House but is stalled in the Senate
- Biden push comes after AG Merrick Garland announced ‘pattern and practice’ probe into Minneapolis police
President Joe Biden will use his address to a joint meeting of Congress next week to renew his push for legislation named for George Floyd that bans police choke holds and racial profiling, the White House said Wednesday.
Biden himself made the bill a priority in a call with members of George Floyd‘s family Tuesday shortly after a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murdering Floyd during an arrest last year.
Floyd’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, lobbied Biden for the bill during their call – which Crump tweeted out and which got broadcast on cable TV.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden would press Congress to act on George Floyd legislation during his address to a joint meeting of Congress next week. ‘I think he’s promising to the Floyd family that he will use the power of his presidency, the bully pulpit, as he intends to do during his joint address next week,’ she said
‘You got it pal. That and a lot more,’ Biden promised him. He said the outcome ‘provided a fresh shot at dealing with genuine systemic racism.’ And in a show of confidence, he promised the Floyd family a ride on Air Force One once it happens.
Asked to fill out what Biden meant by his promise, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday: ‘I think he’s promising to the Floyd family that he will use the power of his presidency, the bully pulpit, as he intends to do during his joint address next week. The role of senior leaders in his government to help push the George Floyd policing justice and policing act forward.”
‘It shouldn’t take a whole year to get this done,’ Biden said from the White House Tuesday, referencing Floyd’s killing in May.
The George Floyd bill passed the House last year and died in the Republican Senate after failing on a procedural motion.
The Democratic-run House passed it again last month on a party-line vote, and it remains stalled.
‘You got it pal. That and a lot more’: President Biden promised the Floyd family and lawyer Ben Crump he would push the measure
Biden said it should not take a year for Congress to act
Floyd died during his arrest. The Justice Department has launched an investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday in the murder of Floyd
Republican Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), the chamber’s lone black Republican, has introduced his own scaled back legislation – it would use incentives to encourage states to ban chokeholds. Unlike the House bill, it wouldn’t roll back ‘qualified immunity,’ which provides protections for police officers for actions while on duty.
Scott told Capitol Hill reporters Tuesday there may be areas for compromise on qualified immunity, which provides a powerful legal protection for officers while on the job.
‘There is a way to put more of the onus or the burden on the department or on the employer than on the employee,’ said Scott said. He called it a ‘logical step forward.’
The House bill also would ban no-knock warrants and racial profiling.
Scott said Wednesday that negotiations were showing signs of success.
‘I think we are on the verge of wrapping this up in the next a week or two, depending on how quickly they respond to our suggestions,’ he told CNN.
On Tuesday, he called himself ‘cautiously optimistic.’ Negotiators are seeking agreement on a bill that could get 60 votes and break a Republican filibuster.
Scott endorsed the jury verdict in the Chauvin case in a statement Tuesday night. ‘George Floyd died because Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck and stopped him from breathing for more than nine minutes. There is no question in my mind that the jury reached the right verdict.’
Scott continued: ‘While this outcome should give us renewed confidence in the integrity of our justice system, we know there is more work to be done to ensure the bad apples do not define all officers – the vast majority of whom put on the uniform each day with integrity and servant hearts.’
‘We must all come together to help repair the tenuous relationship between law enforcement and Black and minority Americans,’ Scott said.
Psaki wouldn’t allow herself to get pinned down on details when asked if Biden was willing to compromise on qualified immunity, a key provision for advocates.
‘The most effective strategy is to allow for space for those conversations … [to] happen privately,’ she said.