'This is a gift': Democratic senators call GOP's bluff and vote to support police funding

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Republicans tried to trap Democratic senators into voting to 'defund the police.'

Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville forced a vote in the Senate Tuesday night on an amendment that would have cut federal funding to local governments that "defund the police."

The amendment to the $3.5 trillion budget resolution, which Democrats will use to try to pass President Joe Biden's infrastructure agenda, was part of a string of GOP measures that Sen. Elizabeth Warren characterized as "what they think will be votes that they can use in television ads."

"Opposing my amendment is a vote in support of defunding the police, and against the men and women in blue," Tuberville said in a speech on the Senate floor ahead of the vote.

But rather than take the bait, every Democratic lawmaker voted for Tuberville's amendment, which passed by a vote of 99-0. South Dakota GOP Sen. Mike Rounds, who was absent and did not vote, released a statement on his intention to oppose the entire bill.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) called Tuberville's and his GOP colleagues' bluff.

"This is a gift!" Booker said in an animated speech on the Senate floor in response to the latest attempt by Tuberville and Republicans to use "defund the police" rhetoric as a "gotcha" against Democrats. "If it wasn't complete abdication of Senate procedures and esteem I would walk over there and hug my colleague from Alabama."

Booker continued, "This senator has given the gift that finally, once and for all, we can put to bed this scurrilous accusation that somebody in this great esteemed body would want to defund the police."

Republicans used the "defund the police" claim in 2020 as a way to hurt Democrats in elections, whether they had ever expressed support for the idea or not.

In Arizona, Republican incumbent Sen. Martha McSally falsely accused her challenger, Democrat Mark Kelly, of wanting to defund the police. Kelly went on to defeat McSally in November 2020 anyway.

Senators often introduce multiple amendments to budget resolutions, in a process known as vote-a-rama, to slow down debate and put off voting on the resolution itself, and as political fodder to use in ads in upcoming elections.

In addition to Tuberville's effort to entrap Democrats on the "defund the police" issue, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced an amendment to "prohibit enactment of the Green New Deal" — another issue Republicans have tried to use to hurt Democrats politically.

As in the case of Tuberville's amendment, every Democrat voted for Barrasso's amendment, and it too passed by a vote of 99-0.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.