White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to criticism that President Biden is not doing enough to help push a police reform bill through Congress, saying Tuesday that Biden wanted to give the negotiators on the Hill space to negotiate, and that he has been speaking with police reform advocates throughout these negotiations.
She also would not put a new timeline on when the President expects to sign a police reform bill into law, but said Biden wants to sign the bill into law “as soon as possible.”
“We have been closely engaged with the negotiators and a range of parties on the Hill. We have also been respecting the space needed for the negotiators to have these discussions about where they can find common ground and where they can find agreement,” Psaki said when asked what the President has been doing to try and push police reform closer to the finish line after his original deadline came and went.
Biden had set a goal of today — the anniversary of George Floyd’s death — to pass police reform legislation during his joint address to Congress in April, though the White House backed off that deadline last week.
“So we’ve been closely engaged, the President himself called Sen. [Cory] Booker to get an update last Friday, expect to continue to get updates over the coming days. And we have also made it imperative and made it a priority to leave space for the negotiators to have these discussions,” she added.
Asked why the President wasn’t using his bully pulpit to make a stronger public call for police reform on the anniversary of Floyd’s death, Psaki said a written statement in the President’s name would be coming out today.
“He used the opportunity of his joint session address, which is the highest profile moment any President of the United States has in their first year of office to call for forward movements on police reform to call for the George Floyd Justice in Police Act to pass and he’s meeting with the family,” Psaki said.
The press secretary would not say whether the President would sign legislation that includes a compromise proposed by GOP Sen. Tim Scott on qualified immunity that allows individuals to sue police departments but not individual police officers, saying the President wants to wait to see what negotiations ultimately bring.
“He remains closely engaged and closely in touch with the negotiators about what is most constructive and what role he can play and we can play to leave the space for them to negotiate and to move toward a place where you can sign the bill into law.”
Shortly after Psaki was asked about Biden doing more to publicly call for police reform, a tweet from Biden’s account said, “We face an inflection point. We have to act.” Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are meeting privately with the Floyd family today at the White House.
See Biden’s tweet: