Congress misses Biden's police reform deadline, but Cory Booker says "a lot of progress was made" over weekend
Senator Cory Booker said on Tuesday he is "very hopeful" about the bipartisan effort to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, despite lawmakers failing to meet President Joe Biden's May 25 deadline for the legislation.
"We worked through the weekend, a lot of progress was made, and I'm very hopeful. We still have a ways to go, but I'm hoping it's a matter of weeks, not months," Booker said on CBSN.
President Biden said during his first address to Congress in April, "We need to work together to find a consensus. But let's get it done next month, by the first anniversary of George Floyd's death."
The anniversary is May 25. On that day — Memorial Day — last year, Floyd's murder in Minneapolis was captured on video by horrified bystanders as fired White police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for over nine minutes. Chauvin was later convicted by a jury of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Floyd, a Black man.
"I think he did a good thing by putting a deadline out there, trying to motivate more momentum, but he understands what's important here is to get a landmark bill done, not something quick that's schlocked together, that doesn't really make meaningful reform," Booker said of Mr. Biden.
The New Jersey Democrat expressed optimism over his joint efforts with fellow Democrat Rep. Karen Bass and Republican Senator Tim Scott and others to move the legislation forward quickly.
"I have been talking with the White House continuously," Booker said. "I had a conversation with the president over the weekend. ... He seems to be encouraged by our progress. His team has been nothing short of extraordinarily helpful."
Activists around the country have been calling for changes ranging from increasing accountability within police departments to reallocating their funding.
Booker said lawmakers are "building a bill around accountability, transparency, consequences, and banning practices like chokeholds and others that we know are not a part of a 21st century policing effort in this country"
"I'm fighting to make sure this is a part of this bill," Booker said.
Ben Crump, an accomplished civil rights lawyer who represents Floyd's family, told CBSN's Anne-Marie Green on Tuesday that the onus is on the federal government — particularly the Senate — to get things done quickly.
"We have to have everybody continue to make this a priority," Crump said. "We know talk is cheap. Your actions speak much louder than your words will ever do."
Crump also hopes the bill will hold momentum despite the Senate's upcoming three-week recess.
"I am concerned with the Senate going on vacation," he said. "We know America has a short memory."
Crump said he wanted the president to know "that George Floyd's blood will be on this legislation."
"Breonna Taylor's blood will be on this legislation. That Anthony McClain, his blood, Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Ronald Gray, Terrance Fletcher, Botham Jean, you know, their blood will be on this legislation," he said. "So it has to be meaningful."
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