Booker on police reform negotiations: 'We're making meaningful progress'

Booker on police reform negotiations: 'We're making meaningful progress'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerDespite Senate setbacks, the fight for voting rights is far from over Small ranchers say Biden letting them get squeezed Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (D-N.J.) on Sunday said lawmakers are “making meaningful progress” in police reform negotiations, adding that he remains focused on eliminating qualified immunity.

“We’re making meaningful progress and I’m committed. We have to have a nation where we end what I think has been a more revealed anguish and agony of many Americans,” Booker told host Dana BashDana BashNYC mayor says he will reinstitute modified plainclothes police anti-gun unit Sanders says Biden can't count on him to support 'almost any' spending package compromise Sanders says Republicans are 'laughing all the way to Election Day' MORE on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

During the interview, Bash played a clip of House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) signaling that he would be willing to compromise on qualified immunity to pass a policing reform bill through Congress with bipartisan support.

Clyburn previously said he would “never sacrifice good on the altar of perfect,” adding “if you don’t get qualified immunity now, then we’ll come back and try to get it later."

"But I don’t want to see us throw out a good bill because we can’t get a perfect bill,” Clyburn added.

When asked o Sunday if he agrees with Clyburn’s assessment or if qualified immunity is a red line, Booker did not directly respond.

“Well, what I agree with, what he said is that we need to at some point get qualified immunity. It's what I'm determined at this negotiating table to get,” Booker told Bash.

“To me, we need this to create real accountability. So I'm at the negotiating table fighting for that. We have to have a nation where when you do wrong, again, not the good officers, but when folks have done wrong, violated someone's fundamental constitutionally protected rights, that there is not a shield in the in the judicial system but true, true accountability where they are not above the law but are held accountable by it,” Booker added.

Democrats want to eliminate qualified immunity, the doctrine that protects state and local government officials, including law enforcement, from liability in civil suits unless they violate a person’s clearly established constitutional rights.

Republicans, however, are advocating for the legal principle to stay intact.

When pressed by Bash on if he is willing to “have less than in order to get that broader bill and fight that fight another day,” Booker again emphasized again that he wants to end qualified immunity.

“I'm not negotiating this in public. I've said where my line is, we wrote a bill with Senator now Vice President Harris in the Senate, along with our House allies Karen BassKaren Ruth BassBass raises nearly million since launching LA mayor campaign On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Members of Congress not running for reelection in 2022 MORE, Congressman Nadler, that said very clearly: we want to eliminate qualified immunity and that is where we're starting. Clearly you've heard very publicly, the red lines on the other side and again this is one of the big issues that we're working very hard to see if we can bridge this wide gulf,” Booker responded.

--Updated at 1:20 p.m.