WASHINGTON – Bolstered with new momentum, Congress is ready to try again to change the nation’s policing laws, heeding President Joe Biden’s admonition that the guilty verdict in George Floyd’s death is “not enough” for a country confronting a legacy of police violence.
Once-stalled legislation on Capitol Hill is now closer than ever to consensus, lawmakers of both parties said after Tuesday's verdict, when a Minneapolis jury found former officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Negotiations are narrowing on a compromise for a sweeping overhaul, though passage remains uncertain.
“We know that this bill must be done, it must be enacted into law,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday about the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Pelosi said Democrats, with lead negotiator Rep. Karen Bass of California, are open to changes to “get it done” but that the final bill must be “a meaningful" version.
The revived effort, led by Black lawmakers including Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, comes at a pivotal moment. The nation is on edge after the case, the deaths of other Black Americans — including of a 16-year-old girl who was brandishing a knife about the time the Minneapolis verdict was announced — and almost a year of protests accusing police of brutal actions that often go unseen.
Negotiations could wrap up within two weeks, Scott said. Bass set a goal of passage by May 25, one year since Floyd's death.
With political pressure mounting on all sides, Biden is urging Congress to plunge back into policing legislation.
“We can’t stop here,” he said after the verdict.