Republicans celebrate Police Week by refusing critical aid for police chiefs

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Police chiefs are begging for aid to local governments during this crisis, which Republicans refuse to support.

Republicans in Congress are taking to social media to celebrate law enforcement officers this week in honor of Police Week, but very recently they have vowed to vote against federal aid to local governments requested by the nation's police chiefs.

"I wouldn't be here without the heroic action of police officers," Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) wrote Wednesday on Facebook. "This week we honor the courage and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers. #PoliceWeek2020."

Just one day earlier, Scalise scoffed at the HEROES Act, which contains $375 billion to help local governments during the coronavirus crisis. The bill is "full of liberal wish list items," Scalise wrote, calling it "a joke."

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The act is a new $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill introduced by House Democrats that includes funding for state and local governments, which police chiefs have said is necessary to prevent police departments from cutting positions. The bill would also provide assistance to hospitals facing economic hardship, funding to stabilize the U.S. Post Office, and additional relief checks to Americans.

Scalise is not the only Republican who both praised police officers and vowed to oppose critical aid to police departments within the same week.

On Monday, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona wrote on Facebook, "we salute all the members of the Arizona and East Valley law enforcement teams that keep us safe in our communities," along with a photo celebrating Police Week.

The next day, Biggs released a video on Facebook saying that he opposed the HEROES Act because "we shouldn't be spending another penny at this point" to deal with the current crisis.

North Carolina's Rep. Virginia Foxx wrote on Facebook on Monday, "I firmly believe that the hardworking men and women of law enforcement must be recognized for their heroism every single day."

But when it came to the HEROES Act, Foxx tweeted on Wednesday that the bill was a "power grab" by Democrats who "are turning this pandemic into their own field day."

Pennsylvania's Rep. Scott Perry joined in on Tuesday, writing on Facebook, "we honor the brave men and women of law enforcement for their continuous commitment, tireless dedication, and selfless service to protect us and our communities."

Later that same day, Perry accused Democrats of "using the [coronavirus] crisis to play politics," adding that the American people "deserve better" than the HEROES Act.

Many Republicans have opposed sending federal aid to state and local governments that are struggling during the pandemic. Kentucky Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has referred to assistance to states and cities as a "blue state bailout."

Sen. Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican up for reelection in 2020, recently said that she opposed such funding to cities and states that "have mismanaged their budgets over the course of many decades."

While Republicans opposed the HEROES Act, police chiefs welcomed the bill.

On Saturday, the Major Cities Chiefs Association wrote a letter to Congress asking for federal support during this pandemic, stating that "police activities will be affected by a revenue shortfall" in many cities across the country. The letter, which was also from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, provided specific examples, such as Houston possibly losing 700 law enforcement positions without additional aid, and Madison, Wisconsin, losing 30 positions.

"The Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) was pleased to see the House address the challenges local governments are facing," the group said in a Wednesday email. "Through direct and flexible assistance, local law enforcement will be able to retain officers, programs and investments."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.