Saturday, October 23, 2021

Kushner and Top Democrats Fail to Mop Up Deadlock On “Good Friday Agreement”

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The White House announced Thursday that White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Democratic congressional leaders made an attempt at renegotiating the “Good Friday Agreement” on Friday, with the two sides failing to reach an agreement.

The two sides took “steps toward common ground” on how best to reform policing policies after meeting behind closed doors for nearly four hours on Friday, the White House said.

But an attempt to bring back two police-reform bills, which both Democrats and Republicans considered competing and non-negotiable measures, failed. The two “talks in the spirit of bipartisanship” lasted about three hours, with just a couple of hours remaining before they broke up, the White House said.

So, while Kushner and top congressional leaders presented their proposal on criminal justice reform, including improved police oversight mechanisms and tougher sentences for repeat offenders, and what would have been the latest version of the “Good Friday Agreement,” an apparent never-ending topic that began in 1998, a third version of the talks broke down.

The parties came to the table under the guidance of Jason Kander, the former Missouri Democratic Senate candidate and Arianna Huffington’s top aide, who has had a front row seat as President Trump and Kushner have fought over policy in the South Lawn of the White House during a special counsel probe into whether his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

As congressional races for November 2018 heat up, Democrats are particularly targeting incumbents with criminal justice reform proposals with their lowest approval numbers. And rather than cross a president with strong support among his base, Democrats are focused on forcing recalcitrant Republicans to take a position on liberal proposals that will have to be supported by a weakened president anyway.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which endorsed former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 race, has often said that “crime and incarceration rates are the new Jim Crow”, and decried the “over-criminalization of poor communities”.

In June, West Virginia Senate candidate Danny O’Connor, who is running against Republican Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, pledged to push for similar legislation to the “Green New Deal” that the Democratic Party is pushing as a solution to climate change if elected, noting that “it’s important we address racial disparities in the criminal justice system”.

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