Posted by on May 13, 2022 6:11 pm
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Biden touts new spending for police while calling out GOP opposition to bill

President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 13, 2022, during an event to highlight state and local leaders who are investing American Rescue Plan funding. Attorney General Merrick Garland listens at left. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Susan Walsh/AP

Biden touts new spending for police while calling out GOP opposition to bill

Haisten Willis May 13, 05:49 PMMay 13, 05:49 PM Video Embed

President Joe Biden and White House officials called for state and local leaders to spend more of what they received from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on police.

Biden dedicated much of his Friday afternoon to the push, while a White House fact sheet called out Republicans for opposing the wider bill providing the money.

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“The answer is not to defund the police — it’s to fund the police,” the president said during a Rose Garden address, repeating a line from January’s State of the Union speech. “Fund them with the resources and training they need.”

Mayors and police chiefs from Detroit, Kansas City, Missouri, Houston, and some smaller cities were on hand at the White House to participate not only in the Rose Garden event but also in Friday’s press briefing, which was the last for press secretary Jen Psaki. Ahead of his speech, Biden met with the local leaders in the Roosevelt Room for a meeting that was closed to the press.

During the briefing, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas told reporters he’s planning to hire 150 more police officers, while Detroit Police Chief James E. White said ARP money had allowed him to implement programs to improve community relations and hire a diversity, equity, and inclusion director for his department.

Biden highlighted that $10 billion of the $1.9 trillion ARP funding has been committed to public safety and violence prevention. He called for the money to be spent — fast.

“The need is clear. My message is clear,” Biden said. “Spend these funds.”

The cited reason is that violent crime tends to rise in the summer. Crime rates have spiked in major cities of late, a fact Psaki blamed on former President Donald Trump by saying it was inherited from his administration.

Psaki added that Biden is putting federal agents on the street and cracking down on firearms to stem the murder hike, but she repeated his comments from the campaign, endorsing reforms to bail policies that penalize poorer people.

According to the White House, ARP funds approved in 2021 constitute the largest single-year commitment of federal resources for state and local law enforcement on record. It called out Republicans, who generally favor law enforcement funding, for unanimously opposing the bill.

“Unfortunately, every Republican in Congress voted against the American Rescue Plan public safety funding for cities and rural counties across the country,” reads a portion of the White House fact sheet. “While Congressional Republicans try to pull back this funding, President Biden is today renewing his call for communities to invest more American Rescue Plan funding in strategies to make our communities safer and to deploy as many dollars as possible before the summer months when many communities historically experience a seasonal increase in violent crime.”

The ARP is a spending bill Biden signed into law in March 2021. Designed to help the country recover from COVID-19-related impacts on the economy, it has been panned by Republicans as wasteful, ill focused, and a major contributor to high inflation. It was passed through the reconciliation process so Democrats could advance it through the Senate on a partisan basis without any Republican votes.

Republican strategist Doug Heye said Biden may be trying to distract from his record.

“Democrats control the White House, House, and Senate. Everything that happens in the country now, politically, is on them,” he said. “That’s true on inflation, supply chain issues, the border, and rising crime. Obviously, when job approval and right track/wrong track numbers are so bad, Biden has to change the topic, so he’ll lash out at Republicans in Congress and ‘MAGA kings,’ but they’re not the decision-makers. Democrats are in charge, and they’ll get the credit — or, as it looks for November, the blame.”

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Biden has gone to great lengths to distance himself from the “defund the police” cries of 2020. His Department of Justice has approved grants to hire thousands of new police officers, and he loudly proclaimed during his State of the Union address that it’s time to fund the police, drawing a standing ovation.

The president’s renewed call to action Friday coincides with a new round of ARP money from the Treasury Department.

You can watch Biden’s full address below.

Video Embed © 2022 Washington Examiner

Originally appeared at Washington Examiner

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