Senate

GOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police

Aaron Schwartz

Republican senators introduced a resolution on Tuesday to formally oppose calls to “defund the police,” an idea that has gained traction with some activist groups.

If passed, the nonbinding resolution, spearheaded by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), would put the Senate on record opposing efforts to defund the police while also calling for “justice” for George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in police custody last month. 

Cotton will try to pass the resolution on Wednesday by unanimous consent, according to his office, which will allow any one senator to object and block it under the chamber’s rules. 

In addition to Cotton, GOP Sens. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Martha McSally (Ariz.), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are supporting the resolution.

The resolution calls Floyd’s death by a Minneapolis police officer a “horrific act that violated the public trust and was inconsistent with the values and conduct expected of law enforcement officers” and that “good law enforcement cannot exist without accountability and justice.”

But it would also warn against understaffing or defunding police departments.

A majority of the Minneapolis City Council has gone a step further and said they will vote to disband the city’s police department. 

The resolution notes that “understaffed police departments and undertrained police officers increase the risk of encounters that result in the use of force, including unjustifiable or excessive force.”

It also states that “defunding the police would leave police departments understaffed and undertrained, while also increasing the risk of violent crime to the communities of the United States.”

No senator has said that they support completely defunding police departments, though a number of progressives have urged lawmakers to curb funding.

Democrats unveiled a wide-ranging police reform bill this week, with leadership closing the door to trying to defund police departments through congressional legislation. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, also has said he does not support defunding police departments. 

“No, I don’t support defunding the police. I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness,” Biden told CBS News.

Republicans have seized on calls by some activists to defund the police, signaling they plan to try to make it an issue heading into the November election. 

Both the House and Senate GOP campaign arms knocked Democrats on Monday, characterizing the defunding debate as a new “purity test” for congressional candidates. 

“We’re already seeing outlandish calls, defund the police or abolish the police, take root within the left-wing leadership class,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.

Tags defund the police Floyd protests Joe Biden Joni Ernst Josh Hawley Kevin Cramer Marsha Blackburn Martha McSally Mitch McConnell Pat Toomey Roy Blunt Ted Cruz Tom Cotton

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