President Joe Biden on Wednesday criticized Senate Republicans after the bipartisan talks around overhauling policing laws broke down without a deal, critiquing the GOP for rejecting even modest reforms.
In a statement, Biden thanked Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Rep. Karen Bass of California for their work on the bill, and heaped blame on the GOP for the legislation dying after months of negotiations.
“Regrettably, Senate Republicans rejected enacting modest reforms, which even the previous president had supported, while refusing to take action on key issues that many in law enforcement were willing to address,” Biden said.
Booker had earlier made clear in a private conversation with Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the chief Republican negotiator on the issue, that bipartisan policing talks are over.
Booker, Scott and Bass spent some six months trying to hash out a deal that could win 60 votes in the Senate, but talks were stymied by a number of complicated issues like qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that protects police officers from being sued in civil court.
Earlier this year, the policing talks were seen by many on the Hill as having the best chance of actually turning into bipartisan legislation. With the talks’ demise, Biden sees another one of his legislative priorities stall out in Congress.
The President expressed hope that he can still sign a comprehensive police reform bill into law “because we need legislation to ensure lasting and meaningful change,” and indicated in his statement Democrats might have to do that on their own.
“This moment demands action, and we cannot allow those who stand in the way of progress to prevent us from answering the call,” he wrote, touting steps his administration has already taken through the Justice Department.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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