(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki takes questions during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 20, 2021. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Negotiations in the U.S. Congress to tighten police practices following the 2020 murder of George Floyd have collapsed, Democratic Senator Cory Booker said on Wednesday, as the White House blamed Republicans for rejecting reforms that former President Donald Trump had supported.
“Unfortunately, Republicans rejected reforms that even the previous president has supported and refused to engage on key issues that many in law enforcement were willing to address,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
The end of congressional negotiations, at least for now, marked a setback for Democratic President Joe Biden, who campaigned on the need for policing reforms.
Among the reforms lawmakers were discussing were changes to “qualified immunity” that protects police officers from lawsuits alleging excessive force, as well as prohibiting the kind of chokeholds and other restraints on people being arrested.
“It was clear at this negotiating table at this moment we were not making progress” following nine months of meetings, Booker said. “In fact, recent back and forths with paper showed me that we were actually moving away from it,” he told reporters.
In April, Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted in the May, 2020, murder of George Floyd, a death that triggered protests across the United States and gave new impetus to police reform efforts in Washington.
Now, instead of legislation, reform advocates were encouraging Biden to use his executive powers to achieve changes.
One of the congressional negotiators, Democratic Representative Karen Bass, pointed to just such an action this month to impose strict limits on when federal officers can use chokeholds and “no-knock warrants.”
But that will not apply to local police departments nationwide.
U.S. Congress negotiators fail to reach deal on police reforms
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