Black Caucus, President Biden Agree on Path forward on Police Reform

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus Departed a Thursday meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden with an agreement on how to address the topic of policing in America following the recent killing of Tyre Nichols.

“We have agreement on how we will continue to work forward both from a legislative standpoint as well as executive and community-based solutions, but the focus will always be on public safety,” said chairman of the Black Caucus, Representative Steven Horsford of Nevada. 

Also at the White House meeting were Senators Cory Booker and Raphael Warnock of New Jersey — two of the three serving Black senators — along with Representatives Joe Neguse of Colorado, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. 

The lawmakers didn’t disclose details about any agreement made in the room but said there will be additional information about the “legislative package” in the upcoming days. 

“This is going to require all of us, including Republicans to get across the finish line,” said Horsford.

Prior to the start of the meeting, Biden said he hoped “this dark memory spurs some action that we’ve all been fighting for.”

Wednesday at Nichols’ funeral in Memphis, Tennessee, VP Harris said the White House would settle for no less than aggressive legislation that addresses police brutality.

“We should not delay. And we will not be denied,” said Harris. “It is nonnegotiable.”

Fraternal Order of Police ‘in touch’ with White House

Executive Director of the Fraternal Order of Police, Jim Pasco, said he was in touch with the White House last Friday, when a video of Nicols’ beating was released publicly, about whether the situation could be a motivation to “get things moving again.”

Pasco’s organization is the largest police union and has participated in prior attempts to come to a bipartisan deal. Pasco said, “we welcome any constructive effort to help us do our jobs better.” Patrick Yoes, president of the union, has also condemned Nichols’ killing and said “our entire country needs to see justice done — swiftly and surely.”

“We’re kind of in a wait-and-see mode right now,” said Pasco, referring to the fact that the GOP has only recently taken control of the House by a narrow margin. “You’ve got to look at the political realities here.”

GOP Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has signaled a willingness to discuss the issue.

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who is the sole Black Republican senator, said reviving the previous Democratic bill is a “nonstarter.” He has also urged Democrats to set aside “tribalism” to strike a deal. 

“I’ve been working toward common ground solutions that actually have a shot at passing,” said Scott. “Solutions to increase funding and training to make sure only the best wear wear the badge.”

President Biden has supported calls for overhauling how police perform their jobs while also emphasizing his longtime backing of law enforcement and continuing to reject cuts to funding. 

In contrast, Harris who is the first person of color to serve as vice president and a former prosecutor, has faced criticism for her approach on police issues.

Marc Morial, who is president of the National Urban League, said he was encouraged that the vice president attended the funeral. “This is what people expect, that you’ll be there for them at a time of need.”

Morial said that, “we need a substantive response, not a political response where they say, “Let’s just pass something.”