Congress

As Democrats try to write a bill that can pass the Senate, they have to ensure they’re not alienating the left while appeasing the GOP.

Rep. Karen Bass speaks at a House Judiciary Committee markup of H.R. 7120, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, on Capitol Hill on June 17, 2020 in Washington, D.C. | Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

By MAYA KING, NICHOLAS WU and MARIANNE LEVINE

05/08/2021 07:00 AM EDT

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Democrats will almost certainly blow past President Joe Biden’s May target to reach consensus on a major overhaul of American policing — and progressive activists, as well as the GOP, are compounding their obstacles.

That’s because, as a bipartisan group of lawmakers makes headway in their talks on a policing deal, some liberal-leaning groups say Democrats’ reforms don’t go far enough. While Democrats maintain that the House-passed bill named for George Floyd is a “first step” in holding law enforcement accountable following last summer’s national outcry over police killings of Black Americans, some influential activists want to see a much bigger stride.

Legacy civil rights leaders such as the Rev. Al Sharpton are supporting the current talks as a path to an agreement with “real teeth” to hold officers accountable. But newer progressive groups that led the public protests, which pushed lawmakers to the negotiating table, want to do more than a House-passed bill they lambaste as continuing a failed strategy. But the political reality of Democrats’ narrow majorities means that they’ll have to water down even the House-passed policing bill in order to get the necessary Senate Republican buy-in.

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