White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday said that President Biden vowed to George Floyd’s family that he will use “the power of his presidency” to push for the policing reform bill named in honor of him.
During a briefing on Wednesday, Psaki was asked about the President affirming his support for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to attorney Ben Crump in a phone call following the guilty verdict for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Psaki said that Biden will make good on his promise to work with Congress to pass the policing reform legislation.
“I think he is promising to the Floyd family that he will use the power of his presidency, the bully pulpit as he intends to do during his joint address next week,” Psaki said. “The role of senior leaders in his government is to push the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act forward.”
Pressed on how far Biden is willing to push for the legislation’s passage, Psaki said that Biden made a “passionate call” for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act during his remarks reacting to the Chauvin verdict. The White House press secretary reiterated that the President is expected to convey that message again during his speech to the joint session of Congress next week.
“It is on his mind as he is working with his team and all of us to draft his joint session speech, which is one of the highest profile moments any President has in the first year of their presidency,” Psaki said.
Psaki noted that Biden has held discussions with leaders and members of Congress about moving the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act forward, which includes meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus last week and asking prominent leaders of his administration to “remain closely involved and engaged” in the effort to push for the legislation’s passage.
“So I’d say it’s absolutely a priority on his mind and he feels this is a moment where there should be momentum for action,” Psaki said.
Earlier in the briefing, Psaki acknowledged that the President “alone cannot pass” the policing reform legislation. In addition to working with leaders in Congress, Psaki said that Biden has asked members of his senior team to work with outside organizations and civil rights leaders to work together to put pressure on Congress to move the bill forward.
In his Tuesday evening remarks responding to the Chauvin verdict, the President said that although the Chauvin verdict can be “a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America,” he made clear that verdicts like Chauvin’s are “much too rare.”
Biden emphasized that the Chauvin verdict is “not enough” to address systemic racism and called on Congress to act on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
“George Floyd was murdered almost a year ago,” Biden said. “There’s meaningful police reform legislation in his name.”
The policing act was approved by the House last month and has been sent to the Senate. The House passed a similar version of the legislation last summer in the wake of protests following the police killing of Floyd, but it died in the Senate. In her remarks following the Chauvin verdict, Vice President Kamala Harris urged the Senate to pass the policing act.
Watch Psaki’s remarks below: