President Joe Biden on Tuesday continued to call for U.S. lawmakers to pass a police-reform bill, as he met privately with George Floyd’s family at the White House on the first anniversary of Floyd’s death.
“It’s my hope they will get a bill to my desk quickly,” Biden said in a statement. “We have to act.”
Floyd, who was Black, died after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes. Chauvin, who is white, was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the case, which led to protests and a reexamination of racism in the U.S.
In his address to Congress last month, Biden called for lawmakers to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act by Tuesday’s anniversary, but it has been held up in the Senate. Democrats and Republicans in the 50-50 Senate have struggled in particular to agree on how the bill addresses the liability of individual police officers.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki drew multiple questions from reporters on Tuesday about the missed deadline, as she declined to give an updated goal.
“I’m not here to put a new timeline on it,” she told reporters. “He’s encouraged by the statement we saw the negotiators put out yesterday that they feel there is an opportunity for progress.”
“As soon as possible, he’d like to sign the bill into law,” Psaki added.
Speaking after the meeting with Biden, Floyd family attorney Ben Crump told reporters that the president “doesn’t want to sign a bill that doesn’t have substance and meaning, so he is going to be patient.”
George Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd said if the country can make laws to protect the bald eagle, “you can make federal laws to protect people of color.”
Vice President Kamala Harris also attended the meeting, and said in a statement: “Congress must move swiftly and act with a sense of urgency. Passing legislation will not bring back those lives lost, but it will represent much needed progress.”
“We must address racial injustice wherever it exists. That is the work ahead,” said Harris, the first Black woman and the first South Asian woman vice president.