Following months of negotiations, two Democrats and a Republican lawmaker on Thursday announced they’ve agreed on the broad strokes of a police reform bill, but it’s still unclear how the two parties will resolve major disagreements on whether to restrict local police departments’ tactics and loosen police officers’ legal protections.
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) have agreed to a framework “addressing the major issues for bipartisan police reform,” according to a statement released by Scott’s office but signed by all three legislators.
The three lawmakers didn’t offer any details on the framework, and suggested negotiations on its finer points are still ongoing and could stretch for weeks (Bass, Booker and Scott’s offices did not immediately respond to questions from Forbes).
“There is still more work to be done on the final bill, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to,” Bass, Booker and Scott said in a statement.
What We Don’t Know
It’s not clear whether this framework will resolve sticking points between the two parties. For example, Democrats have pushed to ban police from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants, whereas some Republicans like Scott have suggested disincentivizing the two practices but not banning them altogether. Plus, Democrats want to roll back police officers’ protections against civil lawsuits, known as qualified immunity, but Scott has pitched making it easier to sue police departments while leaving individual officers’ protections in place.
Calls for nationwide police reform swelled last year after Brianna Taylor and George Floyd — both of whom were Black — were killed by police. Democrats and Republicans have expressed openness to reform, but the two parties have charted separate courses. In a largely party-line vote in March, the Democrat-controlled House passed a bill that would ban chokeholds and many no-knock warrants, end qualified immunity, encourage police to use body cameras, expand the Department of Justice’s ability to investigate police departments, and set up a nationwide database for police officers accused of misconduct. Meanwhile, a bill Scott introduced last year would also track police misconduct and encourage body cameras, but Republicans have argued ending qualified immunity could impede police from doing their jobs, and Scott has favored offering guidance to police on use-of-force instead of codifying a single nationwide standard.