Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats celebrate last June after they passed the George Floyd Policing Act. Photo: Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images

As Congress forges ahead with police reform legislation, Democratic operatives are warning lawmakers to steer clear of any defund-the-police rhetoric since it could hurt them in the midterms.

Why it matters: President Biden and his fellow Democrats say Congress needs to pass the George Floyd Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds, prohibit no-knock warrants and generally make it easier to hold officers accountable for misconduct.

  • Following Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is planning to reintroduce his police reform bill or a similar proposal in the coming weeks.
  • But behind the scenes, it isn't clear any agreement on comprehensive legislation is imminent, Axios’ Alayna Treene writes.

The big picture: While polls suggest the George Floyd legislation, which passed the House, is broadly popular, the nuts and bolts of changing how police departments operate will take place at the local level.

  • Calls by activists to "defund" police departments can — and have — hurt Democrats in tight races, said Celinda Lake, a pollster who does work for the Democratic National Committee.
  • “Voters want change,” she told Axios. “We need to clearly define the change we are for.”
  • “You have voters that do not want to 'defund the police,' but they do want change in policing,” she said.
  • “When individual politicians are accused of wanting to defund the police, unless they get out really aggressively in defining what they're for, then it does tend to have an impact.”

Flashback: After Democrats lost House seats in November, some centrist lawmakers like Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) blamed anti-police rhetoric.

  • “We [need to] look at the things that [the Republicans] say about us,” Spanberger said during a heated call with House Democrats, according to audio obtained by the Washington Post. “Because it works.”
  • Not all centrists are worried about it.
  • "When it comes to issues of social justice, it’s way beyond politics," Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) told Axios' Kadia Goba on Wednesday. "It’s about people's lives and ensuring safe communities, and that law enforcement receives the support they need."

Go deeper: Some progressive Democrats, like Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), want to go beyond the George Floyd Act and continue making the case to defund the police — which could complicate Democratic messaging.

  • “Policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist,” she tweeted last week. “No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can't be reformed.”

What we’re watching: In Minneapolis, the City Council pledged after Floyd’s death to defund the police department, but that's run into a series of roadblocks and faces uncertain public support, Axios Local's Nick Halter writes from Minneapolis.

  • Mayor Jacob Frey (D) has resisted efforts to dismantle or defund the police, and instead wants to reform the department. He is up for re-election in November, as are all 13 City Council members.
  • While Frey is seen as a heavy favorite, many of the City Council members who made the pledge are being challenged from their right.

The bottom line: "There’s no question that Republicans are eager to put Democrats in the 'defund/anti-policing' box,” said Matt Bennett, the co-founder of Third Way.

  • “But it’s going to be hard to do that with the actual legislation.”

Go deeper

Tim Scott hopes to reintroduce version of GOP police reform bill

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told reporters Wednesday he plans to reintroduce his police reform bill or a similar proposal in the coming weeks and that he has discussed a potential compromise with Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Why it matters: Eyes have again turned to Washington to take steps to address police reform in the wake of Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict Tuesday, after efforts stalled in Congress last year.

Chauvin verdicts reduce pressure for police reform

Vice President Kamala Harris listens as President Biden addresses the nation. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The unanimous guilty verdicts against Derek Chauvin are a huge relief for Washington’s political establishment but seem unlikely to rush in the systemic overhauls George Floyd’s family and civil rights and progressive leaders seek.

The big picture: An acquittal or mistrial involving the former police officer would have unleashed violence and days more of protests — and added bipartisan pressure to act on criminal and police reform.

A city's catharsis

A view outside the Hennepin County Courthouse after yesterday's verdict. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Celebration and catharsis filled the streets of Minneapolis yesterday. After weeks on edge, many breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing Judge Peter Cahill read the sweep of guilty verdicts against Derek Chauvin.

What they're saying: "George Floyd isn't coming back to life, but this is the justice we were looking for," Jaqui Howard, who joined the crowds outside the courthouse yesterday, told The Star Tribune.