Bipartisan police reform talks collapse in Congress

FAN Editor

Washington — Bipartisan talks to enact new federal police reforms sparked by the death of George Floyd are over with no plans to move ahead with the legislation, multiple people familiar with the negotiations tell CBS News.

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, a key Democratic broker in the talks, called his Senate counterpart, Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, on Wednesday to say the talks are off, one person familiar with the exchanges said. Booker announced the end of the talks in a statement later in the day.

“Unfortunately, even with this law enforcement support and further compromises we offered, there was still too wide a gulf with our negotiating partners and we faced significant obstacles to securing a bipartisan deal,” he said.

Booker told reporters that negotiators we were not making “meaningful progress” on certain areas. “The effort from the very beginning was to get police reform that would raise professional standards, police reform that would create a lot more transparency, and then police reform that would create accountability, and we’re not able to come to agreements on those three big areas,” Booker said.

The New Jersey Democrat added that he will continue to fight for policing reform and evaluating paths forward to implement policing reform. Booker noted he will continue engaging with House allies, civil rights groups, activists and the White House.

Scott said Wednesday morning that negotiators, including Democratic Representative Karen Bass, met Tuesday to discuss the measure. 

“We’re trying to figure out whether we are going to find solutions to the language that we’re discussing, not the issues that we’re discussing,” he said.

Bass called on the Biden administration to take action in the wake of the failed talks. “We don’t have any particular faith or hope that we will be able to get reforms passed the Senate,” she told reporters at the Capitol.

Floyd died on May 25, 2020 when Derek Chauvin, a then-Minneapolis police officer, murdered Floyd on a Minneapolis street. Video of the killing inspired millions of Americans to join mass demonstrations, and fueled a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement around the world. Chauvin was found guilty in April of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. 

Negotiations gained momentum after the police officer who killed Floyd last year was convicted of murder. But over summer, discussions stalled over disagreements about litigation against police officers. 

Benjamin Crump, who represents the Floyd family, told CBS News that he believes Congress should not give up on the legislation.

“I think we need to force it to the floor. I think the families deserve a vote,” he said. 

Nikole Killion and Zak Hudak contributed to this report.

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