CLAIM: The White House on Monday again posed the idea that Republicans were the ones trying to defund the police because they voted against President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid plan.
VERDICT: FALSE. Republicans did not vote to defund police by opposing Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
The White House claim was first floated by President Joe Biden’s senior adviser Cedric Richmond on Fox News Sunday.
Let’s talk about who defunded the police. When we were in Congress last year trying to pass a rescue plan — I’m sorry, not the rescue plan but an emergency relief plan for cities that were cash-strapped and laying off police and firefighters, it was the Republicans who objected to it. And in fact, they didn’t get funding until the American Rescue Plan, which our plan allowed state and local governments to replenish their police departments and do the other things that are needed.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki repeated a version of the same talking point during the daily press briefing at the White House.
But this is misleading.
Biden’s massive coronavirus aid package provided $360 billion to local governments facing budget shortages as a result of the pandemic, but it was not specifically directed at funding the police.
A search for the terms “police” or “law enforcement” in the text of the 242-page bill that Biden signed does not turn up any mentions of direct funding for law enforcement.
Although the White House did use the talking point that the broad grants to localities could be used to help police departments and first responders, the American Rescue Plan did not include specific funding to hire more police officers.
Last Wednesday, Biden reminded local governments they could use the funds directed to them by the federal government to bolster their law enforcement agencies, even though the funding was not explicit.
“We’re now providing more guidance on how they can use the $350 billion nationally that the American Rescue Plan has available to help reduce crime and address the root causes,” Biden said in a speech at the White House on Wednesday, adding the funds could be used to “hire police officers needed for community policing and to pay their overtime.”