White House press secretary Jen Psaki stuck to the GOP blame game Wednesday when Fox News questioned her about comments she made alleging Republicans support defunding the police.
Psaki suggested that in not voting for the American Rescue Plan, Republicans were the true opponents of police funding, Fox News reported. But when she was pressed on which specific Republicans in Congress voted no on the bill in an effort to defund the police, “Psaki was drawn up short.”
She responded to Fox News saying:
I think actions speak louder than words. If you oppose funding for the COPS program — something that was dramatically cut by the prior administration and many Republicans supported — and then you vote against a bill that has funding for the COPS program, we can let other people evaluate what that means.
It doesn’t require them to speak to it or to shout it out.
The COPS Hiring Program was created in 1994 under former President Bill Clinton. According to the Department of Justice, it was created to “assist law enforcement agencies in enhancing public safety through the implementation of community policing strategies.”
Through the program, the federal government provides grants to state and local departments around the country to help agencies hire additional officers.
When Biden was campaigning, he falsely accused former President Donald Trump of eliminating funding for community policing. Trump did propose cutting the COPS program budget in half in 2019, but the budget was not “zeroed out” the way Biden claimed, according to Dispatch fact check.
Psaki alleged that President Biden ran on a platform to boost funding for law enforcement “after Republicans spent decades trying to cut the COPS program.”
The Dispatch fact check unearthed evidence to the contrary:
The 2019 COPS budget, according to the Congressional Research Service, was $304 million, which although up from its 2018 budget of $276 million, is lower than it’s been in years past. In 1995 the budget was $1.3 billion and in 1998 it was around $1.6 billion, which was the highest it has ever been.
From 2012 to 2017, the budget was consistently at around $200 million a year. The budget increase in 2018 and 2019 can be attributed to congressional funding for anti-heroin task forces and active shooter training grants, according to the Congressional Research Service.
At the time, the Trump Administration argued that the program was ineffective, though the program is still running.
“These resources are spread thin and are not well targeted to achieve public safety outcomes. For example, the majority of 2017 awards funded only one to two positions per law enforcement agency,” the administration said, according to Vox News.
Many Democrat-run cities have defunded the police in the past year, and prominent Democrat politicians have not been shy in voicing their support for the movement.
Psaki’s attempts to change the narrative come as violent crime surges around the country. “Defund the Police” has largely backfired — several cities are walking back their plans and rehiring officers to combat violent crime.