WALLACE: Congressman Banks, you voted against that package, against that $350 billion, just like every other Republican in the House and Senate, so can't you make the argument that it's you and the Republicans who are defunding the police?BANKS: Not at all, Chris. I mean, let’s go back again and look at the last year and the record of comments that Democrats have made from Rashida Tlaib, who said that —(CROSSTALK)WALLACE: No, No, wait, sir, respectfully —BANKS: — policing is inherently evil.WALLACE: Wait, wait, sir, respectfully, I heard you make that point but I'm asking you, there's $350 billion in this package the president says can be used for policing. And let me put up some of the specific things he said.BANKS: Chris, the point that I'm making is important.WALLACE: Congressman Banks, let me finish and then I promise I’ll give you a chance to answer. The president is saying cities and states can use this money to hire more police officers, invest in new technologies and develop summer job training and recreation programs for young people. Respectfully, I’ve heard your point about the last year, but you and every other Republican voted against this $350 billion.
Wallace never got a straight answer because there was nothing Banks could really say. Republicans had voted against providing more funding for the police. In fact, for more than a year, they had refused to allocate needed funds for state and local governments that employ police and other first responders. They called money for police, firefighters and paramedics “a blue-state bailout.”
While Republicans would prefer to talk about the defund-the-police rhetoric of a few Democratic backbenchers, the media should press them on their obstruction. After all, Republicans refused to support not only police funding but also hugely popular items such an expanded child tax credit, funding for a successful coronavirus vaccination program and the restaurant revitalization fund (although Republicans have been touting that item). If the shoe were on the other foot, Republicans would not hesitate to go on attack. (Why does the other side hate the police, kids and restaurants?)
Then there is Republicans’ refusal to vote for the Jan. 6 commission despite pleas of police officers and their families. For weeks, D.C. police officer Michael Fanone tried to get a meeting with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) to make the case for an independent commission and to implore him and other Republicans to stop downplaying the incident, as Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.) did when he said the violent insurrection was like “a normal tourist visit.”
On Friday, McCarthy finally agreed to meet with Fanone. McCarthy rebuffed Fanone’s plea to speak out publicly about the insurrection and to recognize the seriousness of the armed assault. McCarthy would not say anything publicly, according to Fanone — for that would only enrage the former president, whom McCarthy is terrified of crossing. "He said he would address it at a personal level, with some of those members,” Fanone told reporters after the meeting. “I think that as the leader of the House Republican Party, it’s important to hear those denouncements publicly.”
A spokeswoman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has been slamming McCarthy for opposition to the commission, put out a written statement. "It’s troubling that it took a two-month-long public pressure campaign for Minority Leader McCarthy to meet with Officer Fanone,” the statement said. “It’s even more troubling that McCarthy refused the officer’s reasonable request to publicly condemn the Members of his Conference who have attacked the heroism of those who fought off January’s insurrection.” The statement continued, "McCarthy’s behavior in Friday’s meeting is just the latest example of House Republicans’ growing contempt for police and law enforcement officers who keep us safe.”
Do Republicans hate the police? No, but their “law and order” rhetoric and attacks on Democrats cannot conceal their votes nor their excuses for four years of the MAGA cult leader’s lawlessness. In defending the disgraced former president, voting to acquit him twice for gross abuse of his office and taking the side of right-wing White extremists, these Republicans reveal how shallow their rhetoric really is. Whatever they say, they have refused to defend law or order for four years.
Republicans made hay in the 2020 election by fixating on progressive groups’ “defund the police” rhetoric, even though President Biden and Democratic leaders repudiated that sentiment. Now, Republicans are hoisted by their own petard. Instead of battling against the label Republicans want to deploy to smear them, Democrats now seek to hold Republicans responsible for what they do in office. It is about time.