The concept of police reform and what it should look like has been a contentious issue in the U.S. for more than a year. But on Thursday, June 24, a group of Democrats and Republicans announced that they reached an agreement on an eventual bill to address the issue.
NPR’s Alana Wise reported that Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Rep. Karen Bass of California “have reached a preliminary, bipartisan agreement on police reform after months of closely watched debate on the topic.”
In a joint statement, the lawmakers said, “after months of working in good faith, we have reached an agreement on a framework addressing the major issues for bipartisan police reform. 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.”
Details of the plan, including the version of police reform that the Senators and Representatives have agreed to, have not yet been announced.
“The issue of reforming qualified immunity, to make it easier to sue police officers over allegations of brutality, had been a sticking point in negotiations. The police use of chokeholds was another debated provision,” Wise reported.
Following the announcement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki released her own statement, saying President Biden “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.”
In early March 2021, Democrats in the House also approved a police reform measure called the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act,” but Republicans have, so far, prevented that bill from coming up for a vote on the Senate floor.
“The topic of police reform has divided the nation across party lines, with progressives accusing the right of seeking to maintain an antiquated and all-too-powerful law enforcement apparatus,” Wise reported. “Conservatives say the left has blamed the actions of some officers on the institution itself, turning the topic of police support and ‘blue lives’ into more ammunition for the ongoing culture war.”