Bipartisan negotiations over police reform in US collapse

Washington, Sep 23 (IANS): Bipartisan negotiations over police reform in the US in the wake of successive killings of African-Americans by law enforcement have collapsed without a deal, a Senator spearheading the talks announced.

"After months of exhausting every possible pathway to a bipartisan deal, it remains out of reach right now, even after working collaboratively with and securing the support of policing groups," Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"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, along with Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass of California, had been negotiating for months with Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina on police reform measures, moving past self-imposed deadlines several times but ultimately unable to forge a deal, reports Xinhua news agency.

The breakdown of the talks dealt another blow to the Joe Biden administration's domestic agenda, in which police reform is one of the many legislative priorities.

Karen Bass, the lead House Democratic negotiator, also confirmed the "talks are over", saying that it was time for Democrats and the administration to seek potential steps they could take to improve police accountability without congressional action.

"With our counterparts unwilling to come to a compromise, we have no other option than to explore further avenues to stop police brutality in this country," she said.

"I now call on President Biden and the White House to use the full extent of their constitutionally-mandated power to bring about meaningful police reform.

"Whether that's an executive order, whether that's issuing instructions, whatever they can do, we need the administration to act now, because we don't have any particular faith or hope that we will be able to get reforms passed," the Congresswoman said.

Earlier this year, the House passed a sweeping police reform bill named after George Floyd, an African-American brutally killed in May 2020 by white former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The bill bans chokeholds and no-knock warrants at the federal level, overhauls qualified immunity and creates a national record-keeping system for police misconducts.

That bill ended up nowhere in the Senate, where it didn't have the 10 Republican votes needed to overcome the filibuster.



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