Feb 7, 2023
Biden Calls on Congress to ‘Finish the Job on Police Reform’
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden urged Congress Tuesday to “come together and finish the job on police reform,” in the wake of the killing of Tyre Nichols, a Black man who died after a fatal beating by Memphis, Tennessee, police officers.
“What happened to Tyre in Memphis happens too often,” Biden said Tuesday night in his State of the Union address, recognizing Nichols’s mother and stepfather, who were guests in the first lady’s box during the speech. “We have to do better.”
Police reform has been a legislative priority for Black voters, whom Biden has credited with helping him win the White House, but legislative efforts stalled in the last Congress.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a comprehensive reform bill, would seek to end tactics like chokeholds and no-knock warrants and also restrict the use of qualified immunity, a legal liability shield that protects police officers from being sued over official misconduct.
The bill passed the House twice along party lines when it had a Democratic majority, but failed to advance in the Senate. It’s unlikely to pass the now Republican-controlled House.
Biden pointed out that Nichols’s mother told him that “something good will come” from her son’s death.
“Let’s commit ourselves to make the words of Tyre’s mother come true, something good must come from this,” Biden said.
Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, said on NBC “Meet the Press” Sunday that he was “sobered” by the prospects of passing a comprehensive bill in a divided Congress, but remained hopeful some legislation could pass.
Biden signed an executive order in last May directing federal law enforcement agencies to stop using no-knock warrants and revise their use-of-force standards, but that order does not extend to state and local level.
Civil rights groups have pressed for legislative action, noting that Biden’s order does not extend to state and local level and that a future Republican president could rescind it.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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