Nearly 20 Democrats are calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold a vote in the coming months on bipartisan legislation seeking to increase police department funding across the US.
The group of 19 House Democrats – led by New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer and Iowa’s Cindy Axne – is looking to advance the Invest to Protect Act, a bipartisan and bicameral piece of legislation that would provide local departments with additional resources as national crime rates increase.
The legislation was introduced by Gottheimer and Rep. John Rutherford (R-Fla.) in January.
“As national crime rates increase, including homicides, car jackings, and assaults, now is the time to support local law enforcement through passage of bipartisan, bicameral commonsense legislation,” the Democrats wrote in a Friday letter to the speaker, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as well as Rep. Jerry Nadler and Rep. Jim Jordan – the top Democrat and Republican, respectively, on the Judiciary Committee.
They detailed that cutting funding will only weaken police, hurt the quality of work, push out good employees and “fuels a race to the bottom.”
In their letter – first obtained by NBC News – the group said the “only way” to better local departments is to provide investments in de-escalation and domestic violence training as well as other recruiting and retention tools.
“We need to ensure our officers and police department have all the tools they need to fight crime and protect themselves and our families.”
The urge to congressional leadership appears to be the party’s latest bid to appeal to pro-police voters, who have called for an increase in funding in communities across the country after Democrats in Congress and at the state level moved to Defund the Police measures the past few years.
While far-left progressive Democrats – such as Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) – have pressured party leadership to adopt a “Defund the Police” agenda, moderates and even President Biden have also pushed for more funding.
Their call for a vote comes as Democrats face a steep climb to keep the majority in the House and Senate during this fall’s midterm elections.
During his State of the Union address in March, the president said: “We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police. Fund them. Fund them with resources and training.”
Friday’s letter cited the president’s words, saying they support his goal and “applaud the more than 10% increase in funding for State and local law enforcement in the Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bill.”
Among their frequent criticisms of their opponents, Republicans have blasted Democratic leadership for lack of inaction toward rising crime across the country.
Pelosi’s own district has seen a sharp surge — particularly in “smash and grab” crimes.
Late last year, the region saw dozens of people raid a San Francisco-area Nordstrom department store and drive off in two dozen cars with up to $200,000 in goods.
Early last month, San Francisco POA President Lt. Tracy McCray revealed it will likely take “years” to correct the increase in crime, staffing shortages and lagging response times in the area. “We don’t have that many eyes out on the street,” she told ABC 7 News, noting that the department has lost 500 officers and is struggling to recruit.
In February, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) accused Biden of “tolerating” violent crime.
“I think President Biden has tolerated a lot of this,” Kennedy said. “An uncharitable person might say that his silence indicates that he’s — at least the administration is more interested in Super Bowl guacamole than the crime rate.”
A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll – which has indicated a slight Republican edge over Democrats headed into the midterms – found that 39% of Americans believe Republicans can better deal with crime.
Several of the signers of Friday’s letter face reelection in November, including Reps. Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Andy Kim of New Jersey, Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, Dean Phillips of Minnesota and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan.
Pushing the vote, and potentially passing the legislation, could boost the Democrats’ polling on crime-related issues in the weeks leading up to the midterms.
Pelosi and McCarthy’s offices did not immediately provide comment to The Post on the matter.