Negotiations Break Down over George Floyd Justice in Policing Act: 'We Are Incredibly Disappointed' 

George Floyd, a Black man, died in May 2020 after white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee against Floyd's neck for several minutes

george floyd
George Floyd.

Negotiations in Congress for a police reform bill sparked by the death of George Floyd has broken down.

"We are incredibly disappointed and dismayed that the United States Senate was unable to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act," Jacari Harris, executive director of the George Floyd Memorial Foundation, said in a statement.

After police reform legislation was passed in the House in March, Harris said the foundation was "cautiously optimistic that the Senate would honor the will of the people, but that was not to be as yet."

"It's a shame that the bill that bore George Floyd's name was not passed, but it does not diminish the fact that Mr. Floyd truly changed the world," said Harris. "We will ensure that his caring spirit never dies."

George Floyd Killer Derek Chauvin Found Guilty On All Three Charges
Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The bill would have made changes to qualified immunity for police officers, the criminalization of excessive use of force, create a database to track police misconduct and end racial and religious profiling, among other things.

But months of negotiations on a similar reform bill in the Senate never made progress: Republicans and Democrats were unable to reach agreement on issues like qualified immunity for police officers, which shields them from lawsuits. After the talks officially fell apart, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle blamed the other, with one leading Democrat in the House saying police unions also impeded the process.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the two sides disagreed even on the language they were drafting. Democrats said they officially called off the process after deciding it had become fruitless.

On Wednesday, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker said the talks had been shelved "after months of exhausting every possible pathway to a bipartisan deal."

Even with support from some law enforcement 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," Booker said.

He added: "The time has come to explore all other options to achieve meaningful and common sense policing reform."

Democratic Representative Karen Bass of California, who was working with Booker, said they had "accepted significant compromises, knowing that they would be a tough sell to our community, but still believing that we would be moving the needle forward on this issue. But every time, more was demanded to the point that there would be no progress made in the bill that we were left discussing."

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Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, said he was "deeply disappointed" that the negotiations failed.

"I made a promise to never walk away from the table because walking away means we're giving up on the communities and officers whose lives hang in the balance," he said in a statement. "The areas where we agreed — banning chokeholds, limiting the transfer of military equipment, increased mental health resources, and more — would have brought justice to these families."

People participate in the inaugural remembrance rally and march hosted by the George Floyd Global Memorial, commemorating the first anniversary of his death, outside of the Hennepin County Government Center on Sunday, May 23, 2021 in Minneapolis
Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock

"Despite having plenty of agreement, Democrats said no because they could not let go of their push to defund our law enforcement," he said. "Once again, the Left let their misguided idea of perfect be the enemy of good, impactful legislation."

President Joe Biden said he was disappointed in Senate Republicans who, he argued, "rejected enacting modest reforms."

Biden said he would look into "potential further executive actions."

"The murder of George Floyd is a stain on the soul of America," he wrote in a statement. "It spurred the nation to collectively demand justice, and we will be remembered for how we responded to the call."

Floyd, a Black man, died in May 2020 after white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee against Floyd's neck for several minutes. His death sparked protests around the country.

In April, Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in the killing of Floyd.

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