Lawmakers announced Thursday that they had reached a deal on the outlines of a federal police reform measure hours before the Senate was scheduled to depart Washington for a two-week recess.
Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said in a statement that they had agreed to a framework “[a]fter months of working in good faith.”
“There is still more work to be done on the final bill, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to,” the statement added. “Over the next few weeks we look forward to continuing our work toward getting a finalized proposal across the finish line.”
Police reform rocketed to the top of the congressional agenda last year following the murder of George Floyd by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. However, negotiations have stalled for months due to disagreements over issues like whether individual officers accused of abuse should be held liable in civil suits, and the ease of bringing criminal cases against officers who use excessive force.
President Biden had set a deadline of May 25, the anniversary of Floyd’s death, for negotiators to come to an agreement, but that was missed. In a brief statement Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president was “grateful to Rep. Bass, Sen. Booker, and Sen. Scott for all of their hard work on police reform, and he looks forward to collaborating with them on the path ahead.”
In March, the House of Representatives passed its own sweeping police reform bill almost entirely along party lines. That measure has stalled in the Senate.
Members of both parties have accused the opposition of blocking efforts to pass police reform in order to use the issue to rile up their voters in next year’s midterm elections.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told the Associated Press failure of the talks would help Republicans accuse Democrats of wanting to defund the police.
“Republicans are known for supporting law enforcement. We’re known for trying to bring crime down,” Scott said.
“We’re doing the right thing, and they’re trying to stop it,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “And if they pay a political price for that, well, that’s how politics should work.”
With Post wires