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Internal squabble among Democrats holding up $300M in funding for local police

Chris Graham
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Federal legislation to make $300 million available to local police departments and sheriff’s offices across the country is being held up because of divisions within the Democratic Party.

Progressives have raised issue with the Invest to Protect Act because they don’t think the legislation does enough to provide for accountability in local policing, and nearly blocked the package of bills from getting to the House floor for a vote last month.

Moderate Democrats, like Abigail Spanberger, who is in a tough re-election battle in Virginia’s Seventh District, meanwhile, are pressing for the Senate to vote, and soon, on the bill that ultimately passed the House last month, as a way to demonstrate to voters that Democrats are not soft on crime, as Republicans like to assert is the case.

“Police departments cannot effectively answer their communities’ immense and diverse needs without sufficient funding to hire, retain, and train officers. Therefore, we must get this crucial bill across the finish line,” Spanberger wrote in a letter to Senate leaders on Wednesday. “As national crime rates increase, the substance use disorder crisis worsens, and mental health challenges rise, police departments have been increasingly relied upon to address these complex challenges – despite often not having the resources or training necessary to adequately respond.”

The Invest to Protect Act would provide money to local law enforcement agencies to purchase body cams, conduct de-escalation training, and create a grant program for local governments to be able to train mental health professionals to respond to 911 calls involving mental health emergencies.

So, why the opposition from progressive Democrats?

“It’s a matter of unchecked, unmonitored money,” said Missouri Democratic Rep. Cori Bush, who voted against the bill last month. “This is money for training? Well, we have not seen this training. After all the protests, after George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, 2021 saw the most police murders since police murders have been recorded.”

That’s a sort of circular bit of reasoning for opposing the bill – “we have not seen this training” – with the bill to fund the training still in limbo because of the opposition.

Spanberger, who helped introduce the Invest to Protect Act earlier this year, highlighted in her letter the challenges that local police departments face in Virginia and across the nation while protecting their communities if they lack sufficient funding.

“Congress has recognized the crucial role of federal support for state and local departments, increasing funding for both the COPS Program and Byrne JAG Program in Fiscal Year 2022, but we must do more. As such, I urge the Senate to swiftly vote on the House-passed version of the Invest to Protect Act,” Spanberger wrote.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].