President Joe Biden introduced the parents of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old man who was fatally beaten by Memphis police officers, as he called for police reform Tuesday night during his State of the Union address.
Biden left out the fact that Senate Democrats blocked a police reform bill in 2020.
“There are no words to describe the heartbreak and grief of losing a child,” Biden said. “But imagine what it’s like to lose a child at the hands of the law.”
Biden went on to quote Nichols’ mother, Kristin Christensen: “With faith in God, she said her son ‘was a beautiful soul and something good will come from this.’”
Biden called for Congress to “give law enforcement the training they need [and] hold them to higher standards” in a police reform bill.
“Let’s commit ourselves to make the words of Tyre’s mother come true: Something good must come from this,” Biden later said. “All of us in this chamber, we need to rise to this moment. We can’t turn away. Let’s do what we know in our hearts we need to do. Let’s come together and finish the job on police reform.”
In 2020, after the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota by a police officer, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., proposed a police reform bill that would create a national policing commission to review the criminal justice system; collect data on use of force by police officers; ban the use of chokeholds by federal officers; and withhold federal funds from state and local law enforcement agencies that don’t ban chokeholds.
Scott’s bill also would withhold federal money from police departments that fail to report no-knock warrants to the Justice Department.
However, Senate Democrats—then in the minority—blocked Scott’s legislation from coming to a vote. Then-Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the bill from Scott, who is black, was a “token, half-hearted approach.”
Senate Republicans offered to allow floor votes on as many amendments as Democrats wanted. However, during negotiations, Scott said that Democrats said, “We’re not here to talk about that,” and “walked out.”
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