Top Democrat James Clyburn (Sc.) is calling on his party to compromise if necessary to pass a police reform bill, as President Biden redouble calls for sweeping legislation in the wake of Tyre Nichols’ death.
Democrats shouldn’t insist on a “perfect” bill, Clyburn told the Washington Post.
Democrat’s advice to party
Biden pledged to reform policing in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in 2020, which sparked a wave of historic protests and riots, but Democrats have been mostly unable to follow through on that promise over the past two years with only narrow control of Congress.
The party tried and failed to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in 2021, and Biden has redoubled calls to pass the sweeping bill after the death of Tyre Nichols, the Memphis man who died last month days after being beaten by five cops during a traffic stop.
Clyburn said Democrats should be willing to settle if needed, citing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the most impactful laws in American history, as an example of when Democrats compromised in the past.
“When we passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it didn’t have voting [rights protections] in it. It didn’t have housing in it. It didn’t even apply to the public sector,” he said.
His calls for compromise on police reform are a break in messaging from Democrats like Kamala Harris, who spoke at Nichols’ funeral last week. The vice president urged Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, calling it “non-negotiable.”
Senate Republican Tim Scott (Sc.), the party’s leading negotiator on police reform, has called the bill a “non-starter,” but he has said he wants to see some reform and believes it can be done.
“Here’s the truth: We can get something meaningful done. We can pass a bill that the majority of Congress–and the majority of Americans–would agree on.”
Biden makes another push
Biden said he hopes Nichols’ death “spurs some action that we’ve all been fighting for” while meeting with Clyburn and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus at the White House on Thursday.
“We got to stay at it, as long as it takes,” Biden said.
Biden has invited Nichols’ family to attend the State of the Union speech Tuesday evening, where Biden will likely use the bully pulpit to press the issue.
Clyburn told the Post the chances of negotiation bearing fruit look “good.”
“I talked with Tim Scott two days ago. I’ve talked with Booker. I think the chances are good that we’ll get something done. Will it go as far as I would like to see it go? I don’t know that it will,” he said.