In what one national news outlet called “a significant display of bipartisan unity in a divided Congress,” President Joe Biden received broad and enthusiastic applause for his State of the Union call for funding, and not defunding, police.
Missouri Democratic Rep. Cori Bush wasn’t among those clapping.
“I know what works,” Biden said with conviction. “Investigative crime prevention and community policing. Cops who walk the beat, who know the neighborhood – and who can restore trust and safety. Let’s not abandon our streets, or choose between safety and equal justice.”
The American Rescue Plan, he noted, provided $350 billion for cities, counties and states to hire more officers and “invest in proven law enforcement strategies.”
“We should all agree,” the president said, reaching a crescendo to a standing ovation, “the answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police. Fund them. Fund them. Fund them with resources and training – resources and training they need to protect our communities. I ask Democrats and Republicans alike to pass my budget and keep our neighborhoods safe.”
Biden’s forceful stand marked perhaps the functional end of the Defund the Police era. But Bush was having none of it.
“Defund the police. Invest in our communities,” the far-left “Squad” member tweeted in response to Biden. “All our country has done is given more funding to police. The result? 2021 set a record for fatal police shootings.”
Of course, it’s not true that funding police departments is all the country has done. Prior to a resurgence in funding of police across the nation, cities such as Minneapolis, New York, Portland, Oregon, Austin, Texas, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Philadelphia all sharply cut police budgets.
“That’s not the position of the Democratic Party, with all due respect to Cori Bush,” Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last month on ABC’s “This Week,” perhaps with her eye on November’s midterm elections in which Democrats are not expected to fare well.
“Make no mistake, community safety is our responsibility. I quote one of my colleagues from New York, Ritchie Torres, a brand new member of Congress way on the left, saying that ‘defund the police’ is dead. That causes a concern with a few in our caucus. But public safety is our responsibility.”
For his part, Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley is having none of what Biden and Pelosi are selling.
On Wednesday, the day after Biden’s call to fund police and protect society, Hawley says the Senate Judiciary Committee he sits on had a hearing for a Biden court of appeals nominee “whose whole career has been getting off criminals from their sentences, who defended rapists, murders.” Hawley said the nominee’s advocacy for criminals was so extreme that courts called it “obstructive.”
“These are the kind of people that Joe Biden is nominating to the bench,” Hawley told The Heartlander. “He wants people who are pro-criminal on the bench. He wants people who are like Cori Bush in the legislature, whatever he said [in the State of the Union address].
“The Democrats are the party of Defund the Police. And we’re seeing the results of that all across the nation.”
“For the last 21 months the Democrats have been shouting to defund the police,” Sgt. Betsy Smith, spokesperson for the National Police Association, told The Heartlander. “And, in fact, your representative there, Cori Bush, was one of the loudest voices in that movement. In many communities – especially poor communities like Cori Bush’s constituency – the only thing standing between true evil and those citizens that are just trying to live their lives is American law enforcement.”
As for President Biden’s call to fund police, Smith says she was underwhelmed by the brevity of his pro-enforcement agenda.
“He never once talked about holding criminals accountable. He never talked about holding George Soros-installed prosecutors accountable for not prosecuting violent crime. He never talked about holding bail-fund charities accountable for helping to release violent criminals back onto our streets.
“We’ll see, moving forward, if President Biden’s party decides to take him up on that call to fund the police.”
Asked about Bush’s continued insistence on defunding police, Hawley said, “I think Cori Bush represents the true leadership of the Democrat Party, and certainly its future. I don’t think the Democrats have given up on Defund the Police at all.”