WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers say they are eager to pass federal police reforms and that they’re nearing a bipartisan agreement to do it.
President Joe Biden has called for a bill to be passed by May 25, the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, who was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for several minutes.
On Capitol Hill, they say that’s possible.
“I think we’re close to coming to an agreement,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said. “There was a positive atmosphere there and a belief that we have to do this on a timely basis. America is focused on this.”
“I’m very optimistic,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., agreed. “(The proposal) provides for independent review when there’s a police officer-involved shooting or death, so that it’s not the local district attorney’s office.”
Durbin said the main sticking point between Democrats and Republicans is still the elimination of qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that shields officers from lawsuits. There are also differences over banning no-knock warrants.
Despite the lingering division, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the lead negotiator for Republicans on the matter, say progress is being made.
“We are working expeditiously to get to a solution,” he told reporters.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said he’s confident Scott will ensure Republicans’ priorities are heard.
“How police departments deal with body cameras, how they deal with training… providing adequate incentives for people to get into policing but making sure that there’s accountability,” Portman listed.
Biden, meanwhile, is staying out of negotiations for now, saying he has “made (his) position clear” and expects lawmakers to reach a deal.