The Congressional Black Caucus will push for police reform at a White House meeting

Washington — The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) will urge President Biden on Thursday to use the power of the White House and his bully pulpit to rally support for police reform. Members are expected to discuss potential executive actions as well as legislative options during a meeting with the president, according to a congressional aide.

“The question we have to ask ourselves as a nation is, how many more times does this have to keep happening before we engage in meaningful police reform?” CBC Whip Rep. Marilyn Strickland of Washington state told CBS News. “The Congressional Black Caucus has taken a position of wanting to bring George Floyd Justice in Policing Act back.”

During Tire Nichols’ funeral Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris made an impassioned plea for the legislation, which would limit qualified immunity for officers, prevent racial profiling and limit the use of excessive force.

“We demand that Congress pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act,” pleaded Harris, who sponsored the bill as a senator. “Joe Biden will sign it and we should not delay and we will not be denied. It is not negotiable.”

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the Nichols and Floyd families, told mourners that Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee plans to reintroduce the measure after Mr. Biden’s State of the Union Address and could include additional provisions.

Rep.  Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat, at a news conference in July 2022 in Washington, DC / Credit: Jemal Countess / Getty Images for Take Back the Court Action Fund

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat, at a July 2022 news conference in Washington, DC / Credit: Jemal Countess / Getty Images for Take Back the Court Action Fund

“She also wants a Tire Nichols ‘duty to intervene’ in that legislation,” Crump declared to applause at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis.

A spokesman for Jackson Lee declined to comment or provide further details about the potential legislation. Multiple sources confirmed to CBS News that renaming the measure to include Nichols is being discussed, but cautioned that no decision has been made.

“It may very well be the George Floyd-Tyre Nichols Justice (in Policing) Act to ensure that it continues in the minds of people fresh from this current tragedy,” said a Democrat who signed onto the upcoming bill as a sponsor.

Nichols’ family is expected to participate in the State of the Union on Tuesday. CBS News has also learned that CBC members plan to invite other victims and families affected by police violence to the address, according to multiple people briefed on the plans.

CBC chairman Steven Horsford of Nevada spoke with White House domestic policy director Susan Rice on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s meeting with Mr. Biden. CBC members also held a strategy session this week to discuss their approach.

“We need to talk about what’s really realistic in this environment, and I don’t think we’re there yet,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi. “I’m glad the conversation is happening because there are some common sense things like why don’t we have a method to identify law enforcement that transfers from one area to another? There should be centralized data.”

Police reform remains a politically charged issue in both chambers. House Democrats passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act twice in the previous Congress when they held the majority, but it faces a tougher challenge with Republicans in control of the House.

“If you ask me that the House, where we are no longer in the majority, will do the right thing, I have my doubts,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks from New York. “That’s why elections are very important. We still can’t give up hope. We have to keep fighting.”

Representative Pete Aguilar of California told CBS News that the CBC will continue to take the lead on the issue and expects Democrats to “introduce measures that will further accountability within the police.”

House Speaker Steve Scalise of Louisiana said the GOP conference could be open to legislation pointing to an earlier bill by Rep. Pete Stauber, a Republican from Minnesota, who would fund better training for officers, increase the use of body cameras and provide grants to police departments that model best practices.

“I think that kind of legislation is something we were very interested in moving,” Scalise told reporters. “We strongly oppose getting rid of qualified immunity or this whole defunding of the police movement.”

The discussions will also be renewed in the Senate after negotiations broke down between New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker and South Carolina Republican Tim Scott in 2021. Talks are continuing between the two lawmakers this week, according to a congressional aide. Scott said he “never left” the negotiating table.

“I’ve spoken to Senator Booker on several occasions and he’s trying to see if we can try to get some bipartisan support,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said during a news conference Wednesday.

Many lawmakers are hoping for a breakthrough, but realize the challenges ahead.

“It’s a tough, tough cyclical issue, and as surely as we speak, there will be another incident,” said Rep. Kweisi Mfume of Maryland, a former NAACP president. “You know, it’s kind of like mass shootings. How do we get our hands around something that was almost predictable?”

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