Stefanik keeps pretending she didn't vote against police funding

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The No. 3 House GOP leader and every member of her caucus opposed $350 billion in emergency aid for states and localities.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) has spent the last several days on Twitter pretending that she and every member of the House Republican Conference she chairs didn't vote against federal funding for law enforcement.

"Democrats are the Party of Defunding the Police! Every voter in #NY21 and America knows it," she wrote on Thursday.

"I see the local NY press is regurgitating the Dem national talking points that Ilhan Omar, AOC, and the Dems have a more pro-police record than me and other Republicans. Keep dreaming. Democrats are the defund the police party and every NYer (especially in #NY21) knows it," she said in another tweet.

"The Biden Administration and their puppets in the mainstream media: 'The Socialist Squad is more pro-police than Elise Stefanik.' Literally every single local and state police organization in New York: 'We endorse Elise Stefanik.' #BackTheBlue," she said in a third.

"Don't let the Dems (& press stenographers)get away with this garbage! Dems' manta [sic] 'Defund the Police' was one of their top policy & messaging points in 2020. Including Biden who said 'Yes, yes' about defunding the police," she falsely claimed on Monday. "GOP has always supported increasing funding for police!"

She also retweeted a New York Post editorial titled "Slavish media amplify Democrats' outrageous lie on 'Defund.'"

And she claimed that because Democrats blocked a GOP procedural move to bring up a resolution that included language condemning "efforts to defund, dismantle, or disband police forces," that meant they were "on the record supporting Defunding the Police."

On Friday, Stefanik noted that "not a single @HouseGOP member supports defunding the police."

But there is a difference between not wanting to defund the police and actually voting to fund them.

On Sunday, Fox News host Chris Wallace pointed out in an interview with Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) that Banks and every Republican in Congress had opposed President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan earlier this year. That bill contained $350 billion in emergency funding for cash-strapped state, local, territorial, and tribal governments — much of which has gone to help fund the budgets of police departments.

"Can't you make the argument that it's you and the Republicans who are defunding the police?" Wallace asked. Banks responded, "Not at all," changing the subject by adding, "What I'm saying is if we are serious about reducing violent crime in America, then Joe Biden will go on a national public relations campaign to admonish the radical voices in the Democrat party that stigmatize police officers and law enforcement."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki made a similar point on Wednesday, noting that Republicans also have long tried to cut federal funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services program: "If you oppose funding for the COPS program, something that was dramatically cut by the prior administration and many Republicans supported, and then you vote against a bill that has funding for the COPS program, we can let other people evaluate what that means. Their actions speak for themselves."

Biden ran on a platform of curbing police violence and systemic racism, but not on defunding the police. "Federal dollars should not go to departments that violate people's rights or turn to violence as a first resort, but I don't support defunding police," he wrote in a June 2020 USA Today opinion piece.

He backed the idea of moving some police responsibilities to other social services, explicitly noting the distinction between that and defunding.

While they often talk of backing "the Blue," Stefanik and other GOP leaders earned lower scores on the National Association of Police Officers lobbying group's legislative scorecard for the last Congress than did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other prominent Democrats. Stefanik voted with the group 57% of the time. Pelosi was given an 80% score.

And the $350 billion Stefanik opposed has already helped fund police in her own district. According to a May report on a local news website, the city of Watertown, New York, opted to use some of the $22 million it received under the American Rescue Plan to reinstate four police officer positions that had been cut last year.

Despite her attempts to frame herself as a staunch ally of law enforcement, this week Stefanik and 189 other House Republicans voted against establishing a select committee to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. More than 140 Capitol Police officers were injured defending Congress against pro-Donald Trump rioters in the events Republicans refuse to investigate.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.