May 24, 2024

In a press conference Wednesday, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson was caught off-guard by a reporter’s question about police funds being cut in a proposed Republican budget.

“We’ve heard a lot this week about Democrats supporting ‘defund the police.’ The Republican Study Committee budget cuts the main federal grant program that local departments use to hire officers. How is that not proposing to defund the police?” the reporter asked during an event set up for “Police Week.”

Johnson replied that he hadn’t looked into it, but replied that “there’s lots of nuances.” Despite admitting he hadn’t examined the budget closely, he went on to claim that funding for law enforcement increased in other areas.

“That’s a central theme of what we believe. It’s part of our worldview, it’s part of our party platform, and it will always be consistent,”Johnson said, asserting that Democrats were guilty of pushing “defund the police” policies in the past, resulting in higher crime rates today.

It’s telling that Johnson wasn’t able to refute the reporter. The Republican Study Committee’s proposed budget does cut the Community Oriented Policing Services program, which has provided over $20 billion to more than 13,000 different police departments since its creation in the 1990s, something Democrats have not hesitated to point out.

It’s not the first time that the GOP has proposed cutting federal spending on law enforcement; it did the same thing in its debt limit budget bill last year. And ever since the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol seeking to overturn the 2020 election results, Republicans have attacked Capitol police as well as federal law enforcement for prosecuting those responsible for the riots that day. Republicans have even missed a deadline to install a plaque in Congress honoring those who defended the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 riots, which was supposed to be installed by March 2023.

Democrats still have a tough job ahead to convince voters that they are the better choices when it comes to crime and law enforcement, as, despite lower crime rates, polls show that most Americans rate crime as a very serious issue, and police unions have endorsed Trump.