Booker: ‘Sobered’ about comprehensive police reform, but something can get done


Sen. Cory Booker maintained Sunday that some legislation on police reform is possible, even if it’s not comprehensive.

“I’m sobered about the belief that we can get a big comprehensive bill done. But can we get something done? I believe we can,” Booker (D-N.J.), who is among the leaders on police reform legislation in Congress, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

While widespread bipartisan discussions on police reform fell apart in 2021, Booker has continued to talk with people who are motivated to pass police reform across Congress, including Republicans, he said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” The call for reform was renewed in some circles following the death last month of Tyre Nichols, a Black man, after police beat him in Memphis; however, some members of Congress have expressed pessimism that anything will actually get done.

Pressed by host Margaret Brennan about discussions with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), a Republican leader on the issue, Booker said the pair have not stopped talking.

“The reality is, we’re two black men in America,” Booker said of Scott. “We’ve had really awful experiences with law enforcement that law enforcement leaders say are unjust.”

Booker also said he’s been talking to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on qualified immunity — the doctrine that protects law enforcement officers from liability in many instances. That issue has been a sticking point in past negotiations.

“He is somebody that agrees with me that there is common sense here,” Booker said of Graham, speaking on CBS. “You can’t have accountability, without consequences when things go wrong.”

Graham last week expressed interest in a compromise on qualified immunity.

Following Nichols’ death, President Joe Biden met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus last week to discuss reform.

Nichols’ parents are expected to attend Biden’s State of the Union Speech this week. They have called for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a reform bill that passed in the House in 2021.

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