President Joe Biden will meet with the family of George Floyd at the White House on Tuesday to mark the first anniversary of the Black man’s death at the hands of a White Minneapolis police officer. The visit comes amid continued congressional negotiations over police reform legislation.
Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after former police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes. Video of Chauvin’s actions, during which Floyd repeatedly said that he couldn’t breathe, sparked months of nationwide protests against police brutality and racial violence. Chauvin was convicted on all counts related to the death of Floyd last month, reigniting interest in passing police reform legislation.
But, led by Democratic Senator Cory Booker and Representative Karen Bass and Republican Senator Tim Scott, appear to have stalled in recent days. Overhauling qualified immunity, which shields government officials including police officers from lawsuits, remains a major sticking point in bipartisan congressional negotiations over the legislation.
Scott and other Republicans have signaled that they will not accept a provision that would eliminate qualified immunity, arguing that it could lead to frivolous lawsuits against law enforcement officers who are acting in good faith.
The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in March, which would overhaul qualified immunity, among other reforms. Mr. Biden has expressed his support for the act, and called on Congress to reach a deal by May 25. However, it seems increasingly unlikely that a deal will be reached by the anniversary of Floyd’s death.
“I’m not really looking at a schedule. I’m just trying to get this bill done, done right. I doubt it, highly doubt we’ll have it done by Tuesday,” Booker told reporters last week.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the White House is in “close touch” with the lawmakers working on a deal “defer to the expectations of the key negotiators here.” The lawmakers have continued to meet regularly, including last week.
But negotiators are facing pressure from the left as well as the right to craft a deal that is acceptable to all. House progressives insisted that ending qualified immunity for law enforcement officers must be part of any final police reform packagelast week.