Nevada Rep. Horsford, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, talks police reform
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
After Memphis police officers fatally beat Tyre Nichols last month, lawmakers are again calling for police reform. I say again because we are now accustomed to a cycle - deadly police violence being met with calls for congressional action, calls that go nowhere. Well, yesterday, the Congressional Black Caucus met with President Biden and Vice President Harris to talk about how to make police reform happen.
Democratic Congressman Steven Horsford is the chair of the Black Caucus and was in that meeting. He joins me now. Congressman, welcome.
STEVEN HORSFORD: Thank you so much for having me.
KELLY: Did you leave that meeting at the White House more hopeful than when you walked in?
HORSFORD: Absolutely. I remain hopeful because the lives of the people who have been lost because of bad policing just cannot continue. I want to thank President Biden and Vice President Harris for accepting the meeting and making it a priority and my colleagues for joining so that we could have a meaningful conversation and come out in agreement for meaningful action that will happen over the foreseeable future.
KELLY: You call it a meaningful conversation. Can you share whether you got anything of substance?
HORSFORD: Well, first, what was most important was for us to talk about who Tyre Nichols is. And, you know, the vice president attended his funeral. The president spoke to the family. I had an opportunity to speak to the family. And it's important before I talk about anything about legislation that I talk about the people who are impacted by the pain of what's happening around police brutality.
Tyre Nichols was a 29-year-old young man who was a son and a father, who had potential and purpose and a whole life ahead of him. He loved skateboarding and had a passion for sunsets and photography. In fact, he had just left taking photography of a sunset when he was on his way to his mother's house, when he was pulled over, removed from his car, taken, tased and beaten and ended up, days later, dead. That is why the Congressional Black Caucus both pushed for the meeting with the president as well as will work tirelessly with anyone and everyone to make sure that we get meaningful reforms passed around public safety for everyone.
KELLY: Well, and I so appreciate your focusing us on the human being at the center of this, 'cause it's so important. I do want to focus on what meaningful reform would look like and on what the White House can actually do. I know the White House, after the meeting, said the president, the vice president, they are committed to doing everything in their power on this. But ultimately, it's not really in their power. It's Congress that has to move on this. Do you see limits to what the president can do?
HORSFORD: Well, it is true that Congress has to act. And I want to thank the president for what he did do in enacting the executive order last May around substantive police reforms to federal law enforcement agencies that he has the authority to enact by executive order. But just like we did with the bipartisan Safer Communities law, the most comprehensive gun safety bill in 30 years, just like the president did with the bipartisan infrastructure and investment law that's producing jobs and investment, we need the president to use the power of the presidency and his relationships to help us bring Republicans to the table to act. Why? Because public safety is important to everyone. This is not a partisan issue. We recognize we need Republican support for meaningful reforms. And we should all agree that bad policing shouldn't exist anywhere in America, and so we should all work towards ending it.
KELLY: Just briefly, Congressman - we got about 30 seconds left - is there one specific piece that you would like to see accomplished that you think reasonably can be with a Republican-controlled House in the coming months?
HORSFORD: Well, it's going to take more than just one action. What we need is the tenants of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. That is about transparency, accountability and professional standards. We respect law enforcement and the role they play. And we believe that we can both support law enforcement while pushing for an improvement in the culture of policing to keep all of our communities safer.
KELLY: That is Democratic Congressman Steven Horsford, chair of the Black Caucus. Thank you so much for your time today, sir.
HORSFORD: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.