Ending qualified immunity a sticking point for GOP on police reform

Washington DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Following the guilty verdict against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the 2020 murder of George Floyd, Floyd’s family is again calling for the federal government to pass police reform legislation that bears his name.

Democrats, including President Joe Biden, widely back the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, but it doesn’t have enough Republican support to pass the Senate. Still, Republicans say they are ready to come to the table and reach a compromise for some sort of movement.

“George Floyd’s tragic death will not be in vain,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., promised on the Senate floor. “We will not rest until the Senate passes strong legislation.”

The legislation backed by Democrats aims to hold police more accountable for wrongdoing. It bans the use of chokeholds, mandates body cameras and eliminates qualified immunity, which would make it easier to sue officers.

Republicans don’t oppose all the ideas put forth, but the push to get rid of qualified immunity is a sticking point for most.

“I cannot support something that would take that away. I think that that would just leave our cops out there on the line with no support, with no backing,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said.

“I think their job is hard enough,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday seemed optimistic there could be some sort of deal.

“Leaders on the hill need to have discussions among themselves about where they can find agreement,” she said.

Former Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., said she hopes to have police reform passed by May 25, the anniversary of Floyd’s death. The White House has no such timeline.

In the meantime, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has launched an investigation into the practices of the Minneapolis Police Department.

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