Just about one month after President Joe Biden‘s self-imposed deadline to move police reform legislation forward, officials negotiating the terms of the bill have announced Thursday evening that “an agreement” has been reached.
But the brief three-sentence announcement from Rep. Karen Bass and Sens. Cory Booker and Tim Scott — the bipartisan Congressional group leading the efforts on a police reform bill — offered no details of the “agreement” and suggested that no one has actually agreed to anything.
“After months of working in good faith, we have reached an agreement on a framework addressing the major issues for bipartisan police reform, the strategically and vaguely worded statement begins. “There is still more work to be done on the final bill, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to. Over the next few weeks we look forward to continuing our work toward getting a finalized proposal across the finish line.”
Perhaps more surprising than the unexpected announcement itself was the glaring absence of any mention of qualified immunity, a critical element that would actually hold police accountable and one that has stalled efforts and delayed the bill from being ready on May 25, the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, whose killing inspired the police reform efforts in the first place.
Instead, they made what appears to be a symbolic announcement on the eve of when Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering Floyd, was due to receive his prison sentenced.
The George Floyd Justice In Policing Act — sweeping legislation aimed at reforming the ways in which police departments enforce the nation’s laws — was unveiled on June 8, 2020, exactly two weeks to the day after Floyd was murdered. But that was the only thing swift about the bill that, if it passes both chambers of Congress, ambitiously aims to end police brutality, hold police accountable, improve transparency in policing and create structural change when it comes to how law enforcement does their jobs.
At the same time, critics have said the original version of the bill does not go far enough to address implicit bias and the foundation of racism embedded within the country which emanates out in the form of state-sanctioned violence.
Lawmakers have failed in moving the bill to a vote in the Senate after the bill passed the house in March. It will undoubtedly face an uphill battle as at least 10 Republicans would have to vote in favor of the bill for it to pass in the Senate.