WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday urged the U.S. Senate to pass police reform legislation named after George Floyd, describing the guilty verdict for Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis cop convicted of his murder, as a "piece" of addressing "pain that existed for generations."
Harris, in a sit-down interview with CNN’s "State of the Union," said she hoped the Senate had the "courage" to act on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. While in the Senate, Harris helped craft the legislation with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) following the public outcry over Floyd’s death last May.
The measure passed the Democratic-controlled U.S. House last month, but faces an uphill climb in the 50-50 Senate, where the measure needs 60 votes to pass. Republicans have balked at supporting the Democratic plan, backing instead a proposal by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) last year that calls for limits on chokeholds and more data collection on no-knock warrants. Democrats have proposed banning both practices.
"There is no question that we have got to put an end to these moments where the public questions whether there's going to be accountability, questions whether there's going to be the kind of fairness that we should all expect and deserve in all of our lives and, in particular, as it relates to people of color," Harris said.
Hours after the Chauvin verdict was read last Tuesday, President Joe Biden, in a speech from the White House repeated his call for the Floyd bill to be passed, saying "it shouldn't take a whole year to get this done."
Harris, when asked if she and Biden will get more involved in informal negotiations between lawmakers to help pass the bill, said: "It is for the folks in the Senate to work together to resolve whatever may be differences of opinion about the details of the legislation."
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the lead sponsor of the measure in the House, told ABC’s "This Week" that talks were ongoing between a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including the House Problem Solvers Caucus, which includes Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport), and Booker and Scott in the Senate.
"What's most important is that we come up with ways to hold police officers accountable so we will stop seeing these videos," Bass said when asked about the differences between the Democratic proposal and Scott’s plan.
The Floyd bill passed by the House would ban the use of no-knock warrants for federal drug investigations, ban racial and religious profiling by law enforcement agencies, and create a national database of police misconduct. The measure also calls for eliminating legal protection for law enforcement officers that shields them from victim lawsuits, known as qualified immunity. Scott and Republicans have opposed the call to get rid of qualified immunity and have proposed increasing reporting requirements for federal no-knock warrants rather than eliminate them. Democrats have said those proposals do not go far enough to address cases of police brutality against minorities.
"It's also about raising the standard of policing in the United States. We have 18,000 police departments and no national standards, which is why you see some practices legal in some areas and illegal in other areas, and so I think that is critical," Bass said.
Sen. Rick Scott (R- Fla.), who serves as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told ABC’s "This Week" he believed that law enforcement groups should play a bigger role in helping craft compromise legislation.
"I think what we ought to do is let's find best practices," Scott said. "I think if you go back to what Tim Scott proposed, let's have more transparency so we can find out what's working and what's not working."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), asked whether the Senate will pass the police reform bill by May 25 — one year after Floyd's death — told MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan on Sunday that "the first step is to see what results" Bass, Booker and Scott are "able to come up with" in their negotiations.
"They believe they're making good progress," Schumer said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki last week said Biden is expected to use part of his first presidential address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday to repeat his call for the passage of policing reform legislation.