Bipartisan group in Congress reach 'framework' agreement on police reform

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress working on police reform said they are making good progress.

Sens. Cory Booker and Tim Scott, as well as Rep. Karen Bass, released a joint statement Thursday that could serve as a significant checkpoint in their bid to pass legislation, part of an effort spurred by high-profile law enforcement encounters in the summer of 2020 — including one that led to the death of George Floyd, stirring a national reckoning on race and police use of force.

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"After months of working in good faith, we have reached an agreement on a framework addressing the major issues for bipartisan police reform," the lawmakers said in a statement. "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."

Among the most significant areas of disagreements between Republicans and Democrats was whether to limit qualified immunity, a legal protection for government officials that makes it difficult for the public to sue law enforcement over misconduct claims.

Republicans want to preserve it over concerns about hurting police recruitment. This comes at a time when police across the country are quitting forces in droves, according to a report by the New York Times.

In a survey conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum of nearly 200 police departments, retirements were up 45% and resignations by 18% from April 2020 to April 2021.

Scott, who has been vocal about keeping qualified immunity in place, said he was open to reforms such as holding police departments, rather than individual officers, accountable for misconduct.

"The more you dig into the bill, the more there is to talk about. Ultimately, there are so many of the devil being in the details. We're closing that gap," the South Carolina Republican said on Monday, according to NBC News.

Critics of qualified immunity say it deters officers from being held accountable and could incentivize bad practices.

Bass, a California Democrat, said she's "not prepared" to ask her colleagues to support a bill that does not eliminate the legal protections.

"I think qualified immunity is essential because one of the most important things for us to do in reforming policing in the United States is to hold police departments and police officers accountable," Bass told the Washington Post in May.

The White House praised the efforts of the negotiators, who have spearheaded the efforts since the Democratic-controlled House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act mostly along party lines in March, sending it to the Senate where it faces an uphill battle.

"The President is 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," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The members previously missed an initial deadline proposed by President Joe Biden to reach an agreement by May 25, the anniversary of Floyd's death.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

The Floyd bill would limit qualified immunity, as well as create a national police misconduct registry, ban federal law enforcement from using chokeholds, and bar federal funding from states that do not ban chokeholds and other use-of-force measures.

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Tags: News, Congress, George Floyd, Police

Original Author: Mica Soellner

Original Location: Bipartisan group in Congress reach 'framework' agreement on police reform

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