WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden marked the first anniversary of George Floyd’s murder Tuesday with a private Oval Office meeting with members of Floyd’s family as congressional negotiators seek a deal on a bill named after Floyd aimed at reforming policing practices across the nation.
Biden had said last month that he hoped to mark the solemn occasion by signing the policing bill, but the legislation remains stalled in the Senate as Republicans and Democrats try to hammer out a compromise on its provisions. White House officials have said they hope the meeting Tuesday will keep the momentum going.
“We have to act,” Biden said in a statement following the meeting. “We face an inflection point. The battle for the soul of America has been a constant push and pull between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart. At our best, the American ideal wins out.”
Biden met with the Floyd family shortly after the killing, when he was a presidential candidate, and has spoke multiple times with them, including in a call moments after a former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, was found guilty last month of Floyd’s murder. Biden has talked about how he was personally affected by the killing and the widespread demonstrations calling for police reform and an end to systemic racism.
Floyd’s daughter and her mother, his siblings and several other relatives were in attendance at the meeting. Biden said the Floyd family “has shown extraordinary courage, especially his young daughter Gianna, who I met again today.”
“Being here today is an honor,” said Georg Floyd’s brother Terrence Floyd. “To meet with the president and the vice president and for them to show their concern to our family and for them to actually give an ear to our concerns and how we feel on the situation. I feel it was a very productive conversation, and I’m grateful for it.”
While in Washington, the Floyd family also meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Karen Bass, both California Democrats, as well as other members of Congress, a senior Democratic aide said. Bass is one of the top negotiators on the policing bill.
Republicans and Democrats on the Hill have said they are optimistic that a police reform bill will be passed soon. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who has been leading negotiations in the Senate, indicated that a deal was near and “we can see the end of the tunnel.”
The bill would bar the use of chokeholds, ban no-knock warrants in federal drug cases, and create a national police misconduct registry, among other provisions.
Scott, who is the only Black Republican senator, said a deal won’t be announced before this weekend, but negotiators are “starting to see a frame.” He said he spoke with Floyd’s brother several weeks ago.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said he anticipates it will be weeks, not months, before legislation is passed.
“We want to get this deal right and not quick, and I’m very encouraged,” Booker told “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday.
“The president is still very much hopeful that he will be able to sign the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act into law,” Psaki said Monday. “And we are of course very closely engaged with the negotiators while also leaving them room to work.”
Leigh Ann Caldwell contributed.