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Bipartisan group of lawmakers meet to discuss police reform measures

By
Don Johnson
Signs with messages against excessive police force and inequality are seen on a house in Los Angeles, Calif., on June 10, 2020. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Signs with messages against excessive police force and inequality are seen on a house in Los Angeles, Calif., on June 10, 2020. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

April 29 (UPI) -- A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers were set to begin discussions Thursday on police reform, hoping to reach a compromise on a bill that can be adopted by both houses of Congress.

The Democratic-held House adopted the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in March, but the bill has stalled in the divided Senate with most Republicans opposing the legislation.

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In his speech before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, President Joe Biden urged lawmakers to adopt the legislation before the one-year anniversary of Floyd's death on May 25.

Eight GOP senators and House representatives planned at Thursday's meeting to discuss possible changes to the bill that might persuade enough Republicans to vote for it in the upper chamber, or perhaps creation of new legislation.

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Democrats have 50 seats in the Senate and Floyd's namesake bill would need at least 60 votes to avoid a filibuster.

The discussions Thursday include Sens. Tim Scott, R-S.C., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif. Bass was the lead sponsor of the bill, CNBC reported.

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Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., are also part of the talks, along with two House Republicans.

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The bill named for Floyd would relax laws that shield police officers from civil lawsuits, known as qualified immunity, and makes it easier to prosecute officers for misconduct or excessive force.

The bill also would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants and tie police funding to the elimination of these practices by local police departments.

Scott proposed a police reform bill in the Senate last year, but Democrats opposed it saying it did not do enough. Republicans have largely opposed measures that weaken qualified immunity.

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Scott has recently proposed changes in his bill that would allow civil lawsuits against departments rather than individual officers.

Floyd was a Black American who was killed almost a year ago during an arrest by Minneapolis police. Former officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes, was convicted by a jury on all counts last week and could be sent to prison for the rest of his life.

Protesters march for social justice

The Surrogate's Court building exterior remains vandalized while Occupy City Hall protests continue outside City Hall in New York City on June 30. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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