CLAIM: Joe Biden claims that it’s President Donald Trump who wants to “defund the police.”
VERDICT: FALSE. In fact, Trump has just announced new funding for law enforcement in troubled cities like Chicago.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has been under attack recently from President Trump over calls by some Democrats to defund (or abolish) the police. Biden says he does not want to “defund” the police, but “redirect’ funding from police to other priorities. As Breitbart News recently demonstrated, “defunding” and “redirecting funds” mean the same thing.
Biden, caught supporting a radical and deeply unpopular policy, tried to turn the tables at a fundraiser Monday evening:
At a fundraiser tonight, @JoeBiden hit @realDonaldTrump over police funding. "All this talk about the president saying I want to defund police departments, his budget calls for cutting police, local — aid to local police agencies, by half a billion dollars. Typical, isn't it?"
— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) July 21, 2020
On Tuesday, Biden repeated the claim in an interview with a local television news station, telling an anchor that Trump’s most recent budget (in February) “calls for cutting local funding for police nationally.” But Biden’s claims are false.
President Trump has never suggested that he wants to “defund the police” or undercut local law enforcement functions.
It is not clear how Biden arrived at his figure of “half a billion dollars.” On Tuesday, he said it was closer to $447 billion. It would appear that Biden is referring to several cuts to federal programs in the White House Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal, which the administration says are obsolete.
The budget was produced before the coronavirus pandemic, and long before the recent nationwide unrest.
The White House proposed the following cuts:
- $46 million in Transportation and Safety Administration (TSA) grants reimbursing state and local law enforcement for posting officers at airports. The administration argues that state and local governments have largely taken over that role.
- $59 million in funding for the TSA Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) Teams, which the White House wants to eliminate because it says the program duplicates state and local law enforcement functions for no real reason.
- $136 million from the Bill Clinton-era COPS Hiring Program, which was originally designed to help state and local law enforcement agencies hire new officers, but which now subsidizes entry-level salaries and benefits. The White House says the program is not “well targeted to achieve public safety outcomes,” and that it only funds one or two officers per agency. The money is to be reallocated to “higher priority” federal law enforcement functions, such as stopping human trafficking.
Together, those cuts are only $241 million. There is another cut of $244 million to the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), which helps state and local agencies incarcerate illegal aliens who commit crimes. The White House wants to eliminate that program and to use the money for border enforcement instead, stopping the problem at its source.
Those cuts add up to just under $500 million. They hardly represent major cuts; most of the money will still be spent on law enforcement.
Moreover, the White House budget proposal actually increases funding for other law enforcement functions, such as a $544 million increase to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Overall, the White House proposes that the Department of Justice budget be decreased 2.3%, focusing more resources on higher priority law enforcement functions, given the drop in violent crime in recent years.
The recent unrest has shifted the Trump administration’s focus toward finding ways for federal law enforcement to assist local law enforcement efforts (or compensate for the lack thereof). On Tuesday, as part of Operatio Legend, the President announced a surge of federal law enforcement officers to Chicago, Albuquerque, and other cities struggling with a surge in violent crime in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests and efforts by local politicians to defund or restrain the police.
Biden and the Democrats have responded to the unrest by criticizing police and calling for their functions to be replaced.
The movement to “defund the police,” which Biden’s “redirected” funding reflects, argues that there is something inherently bad about police work that needs to be replaced.
Biden appears to share that view: last month, he blamed police for “escalat[ing] tension” in communities, appearing to blame them for the unrest erupting nationwide.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.