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NRCC turns up heat on vulnerable Democrats over Omar’s call to abolish police

Greg Nash

Republican operatives are attempting to link vulnerable Democrats to progressive members’ calls to disband police departments and reduce their budgets as they look to flip key swing districts in November. 

Top progressive lawmakers and outside groups have called for substantial changes to the structure of U.S. law enforcement after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis who died during an arrest after a police officer knelt on his neck.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted Friday: “The Minneapolis Police Department has proven themselves beyond reform. It’s time to disband them and reimagine public safety in Minneapolis.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) also took to social media to blast New York’s police budget, tweeting: “If police budgets bought peace, the $6 billion NYPD budget would’ve bought the most sophisticated de-escalatory operation in the world. Clearly, it didn’t.”

Republicans have slammed the proposal, arguing that while bad actors like those responsible for Floyd’s death should be held accountable, they believe that defunding and disbanding the police goes too far. A number of Democrats, including Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.), also said they don’t agree with calls to defund law enforcement. 

“No, I don’t believe that we should defund police departments,” she said at a press conference on Wednesday. 

While the Democratic party is not in agreement over the issue, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the House GOP’s campaign arm, and outside groups like the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) are looking to seize on progressives’ comments by taking aim at those representing purple districts, many of which flipped during the midterm election cycle. 

“Of all of the things these insane Democrats have tried to abolish, this may be the most dangerously insane one yet,” NRCC spokesman Chris Pack said in a statement. “What’s next, the fire department?”

While the Democratic lawmakers and candidates being targeted have not publicly weighed in on the topic, the NRCC has taken to social media and sent out numerous email blasts targeting members. 

“[Rep.] Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) is ‘honored’ to have the support of Indivisible, an extreme liberal group that wants to ‘defund the police.’ Malinowski has even gone so far to say the group is ‘essential to a healthy democracy‘,” it sent in a mass email on Thursday. 

And CLF, the main House Republican super PAC, has employed similar tactics, highlighting donations made by Omar to vulnerable members’ campaigns.

“Will Rep. Underwood stay silent about her top donor [Omar]’s support of defunding the police? Will Underwood push to defund Chicago Police as well?” the group tweeted, referring to Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), whom Omar has supported.

Attempting to connect moderates with progressive policies has been a leading component in the GOP’s strategy in its efforts to take back control of the lower chamber.

While at times the NRCC’s aggressive messaging tactics have come under fire, the group has asserted it needs to take a bold approach if the GOP is going to flip back the House. 

Democratic lawmakers have vowed to take bold legislative action to prevent police brutality, but it is unclear whether any of the bills will include language to change the funding mechanisms for police departments. 

“Well, I did hear of Los Angeles, that’s about almost one‑tenth of the budget, it’s about $1.3‑ish billion, so that would be one‑tenth of that,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference on Thursday when asked about the city’s plan to divert $150 million from LAPD to various other programs. “Again, I’d refer to the Congressional Black Caucus as to how they want to prioritize.  It’s a question of curating some of these … overlap, prioritizing and then deciding in how many different bills will they appear.”

“Some of them may have some bipartisan support right away and others may need some more work in that regard,” she added. “So we shall see.”

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez George Floyd Ilhan Omar Karen Bass Lauren Underwood Nancy Pelosi police brutality Tom Malinowski

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