Some congressional Democrats are steering clear of supporting calls to “defund the police” as they aim to offer clarity on their stance for police reform.
On Monday, as Congressional Democrats unveiled their new bill for police reform, they also made an effort to center their focus on the main goal of their proposed legislation — reform and accountability for police departments, nationwide.
While they are looking to taking funding from over-funded police departments, Democratic leaders are trying to make it clear that they have no plan to completely defund police departments.
“We could re-balance some of our funding to address some of those issues more directly,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference about directing some funds to policing in schools and addressing mental health. “But this isn’t about that and that should not be the story that leaves here.”
During an interview with MSNBC, Pelosi also aimed to clarify the Democrats’ plans while noting that their currently proposed legislation would not lead to the complete defunding of any police department.
“The funding of police is a local matter, as you know. From the standpoint of our legislation, we’re not going to that place. What we’re doing is talking about how we change policy to make our policing more just,” Pelosi said.
See Pelosi’s remarks below:
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) spoke from a blatantly honest stance about the notion, saying, “You can’t defund the police, that’s stupid, it’s crazy and anyone who talks about that is nuts. You have to have the police.”
Many top Democrats have also expressed concern about the Republican Party possibly overshadowing their main objective by running messages that highlight the notion of defunding the police.
“This movement today, some people tried to hijack it,” House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said during a call, according to sources. “Don’t let yourselves be drawn into the debate about defunding police forces.”
“I think it can be used as a distraction and that’s my concern,” Rep. Karen Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), said while speaking with reporters on Monday. “I think the intent behind it is something that I support — the idea that communities need investments.”
Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), also a member of the CBC, voiced similar concerns to Clyburn and Bass.
“We’re keeping our eyes on the prize, and that needs to be the story. State and local will do what state and local needs to do,” Rochester said. “We are the Congress. What we’re doing here today is our role.”