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In speech to Congress, Biden to call for police reform -WH

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Biden is to address a joint session of Congress on April 28, marking 100 days in office with what is arguably his biggest speech since taking office on Jan. 20.

The conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the May 2020 death of George Floyd has brought renewed attention to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds and require that deadly force only be used as a last resort in arrests.

Psaki on Wednesday said Biden has discussed the legislation with lawmakers, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus when they met on Tuesday. She said the president has "every intention" of using his big speech "as an opportunity to elevate this issue and talk about the importance of putting police reform measures in place."

Psaki said Biden believes it is currently too difficult to convict police officers."He believes the bar for convicting officers is too high. It needs to be changed," she said.

Video Transcript

- Under current law it's a high bar for convicting officers of federal civil rights crimes. Does the president think it's time to revisit this aspect of the law.

JEN PSAKI: Mhm. Well first, as the President alluded to last night in his remarks after the verdict was announced, he believes the bar for convicting officers is far too high. It needs to be changed. He's a strong supporter, as he also conveyed passionately last night, of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which does change the intent standard. Obviously there is negotiations that need to happen on Capitol Hill, but he believes the bar is too high.

- And if I could just square that, that includes the federal civil rights aspect of the law as well, or is he speaking more--

JEN PSAKI: My understanding is that's also addressed in the bill. The President alone cannot pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act into law.

- How does he see his role in getting the George Floyd bill passed?

JEN PSAKI: Well, his role is to work with leaders in Congress as he did, as he has, being in touch with leaders in Congress, in the Senate, and House, also having a discussion with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, many of whom are playing important and prominent roles in getting this legislation across the finish line. He's also asked members of his senior team, whether it's the legislative team, the Domestic Policy Council, his Office of Public Engagement, to work with outside organizations, civil rights leaders and others, to work together to put pressure on Congress to move forward.

He used the opportunity last night to deliver remarks, and I will say as he's preparing to, as he's thinking about what his joint session speech looks like next week, he has every intention of using that as an opportunity to elevate this issue and talk about the importance of putting police reform measures in place.