In widespread protests across the country following the police killing of George Floyd, demonstrators are demanding that Congress take action to make police departments more accountable and to curb racial violence. Federal lawmakers are beginning to craft their legislative response. Congress is so far considering around a dozen proposals.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that a new initiative would be introduced next week to end racial profiling and excessive use of force by police officers. The Congressional Black Caucus is leading the effort to put forward a package of bills on police reform in the coming days.
Congresswoman Karen Bass, the chairwoman of the CBC, told CBS News’ Major Garrett that police accountability was the “number one issue” with policing. She said that she expected the final package to incorporate several reforms, including a bill proposed by Representative Hakeem Jeffries that would ban police chokeholds. Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic caucus, introduced the legislation in 2015, after the killing of Eric Garner who, like Floyd, said, “I can’t breathe” as he was placed in a chokehold.
“I’m inclined to push the envelope as far as we can because we have a moment now,” Bass said.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden endorsed Jeffries’ plan in a speech in Philadelphia earlier this week. As the issue of police violence and racial injustice comes to the forefront of the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden said legislation can’t wait until a new administration and called for making “a down payment” now on a policy response.
There are new bills to address elements of policing, and others are re-upping previous proposals. The various measures address accountability standards and the review process for misconduct, demilitarizing the police force, requirements and resources for body cameras, the overhaul of police training, and making the use of deadly force a last resort.