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Biden calls on Congress to pass George Floyd police reform bill by end of May

Biden calls on Congress to pass George Floyd police reform bill by end of May
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President BidenJoe BidenExpanding child tax credit could lift 4 million children out of poverty: analysis Maria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back MORE on Wednesday urged Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, highlighting not only one of the marquee issues that he campaigned on, but a topic that has been at the forefront of national discussion since last year.

“We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black America,” Biden told said during his first address to Congress, referencing the death of George Floyd, who was killed last May when an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, was convicted of murder and manslaughter earlier this month.

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“Now is our opportunity to make real progress,” the president continued. “We have to come together. To rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve. To root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system. And to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that passed the House already.”

The president’s speech comes as he reaches the 100-day mark of his presidency, which has been headlined by an ambitious national strategy to vaccinate the country in an effort to tamp down the coronavirus pandemic.

But Biden has not shied away from multi-tasking.

Following his electoral victory over former President TrumpDonald TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat MORE in November, Biden made a bold pledge to Black Americans — that he’d have their backs — and it’s something that he’s attempted to make good on.

Police reform is just one of a handful legislative priorities that Black lawmakers and Biden have been in lockstep on. 

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The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act – first introduced by Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassBlack Republican advocates his case for CBC membership Tim Scott: Could be 'very hard' to reach police reform deal by June deadline Police reform negotiations enter crucial stretch MORE (D-Calif.) following Floyd’s death – in March, but it has since stalled in the evenly split Senate.

If signed into law, the legislation would implement sweeping changes to federal policing standards.

Racial profiling at every level of law enforcement would be prohibited; chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants would be banned at the federal level; qualified immunity for officers would be overhauled; and a national police misconduct registry would be created so officers who were fired for such discretions could not be hired by another police department.

The bill wouldn’t mandate certain reforms such as the chokehold ban at a state and local level, but it would tie in the new federal standards as thresholds for police departments to meet if they want to continue receiving federal aid.

Though the bill didn’t receive GOP support in the House, police reform is a bipartisan issue.

After Floyd’s death, Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSen. Manchin paves way for a telehealth revolution Kerry Washington backs For the People Act: 'Black and Brown voters are being specifically targeted' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain MORE (R-S.C) — the only Black Republican in the upper chamber — introduced his own police reform bill, and since March he’s been in negotiations with Bass and Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerCongress must act to correct flaws in the First Step Act Democrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination Zombie Tax punishes farmers to fill DC coffers MORE (D-N.J.).

The red line for Scott and other Republicans is the slashing of qualified immunity, which shields state and local government officials, including law enforcement officers, from civil suits unless they violated a clearly established constitutional right.

During his lengthy address, Biden pushed both parties to get the bill passed by May 25, the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death.

“I know the Republicans have their own ideas and are engaged in productive discussions with Democrats. We need to work together to find a consensus,” the president said.

“Congress should act," he added. "We have a giant opportunity to bend to the arc of the moral universe toward justice.”