Give Joe Biden this much credit — at least he’s finally talking about an issue voters care about. Other than that, the Washington Post reports, Biden’s big reveal today on crime and policing offers nothing new other than a pivot from his SUV-fleet remote observations on climate change yesterday. It’s a rehash of his already-extant budget proposals, which still require action from Congress:
In a trip to Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Biden will lay out a Safer America Plan that includes expanded law enforcement funding to allow the hiring and training of 100,000 police officers for what the administration calls “accountable community policing,” according to a White House statement and senior administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement.
At the same time, attempting to seize on the momentum of last month’s passage of a bipartisan gun-control law, Biden will propose nearly $3 billion to help communities clear court backlogs and solve homicides; a $15 billion grant program to prevent violent crime and reroute police resources in nonviolent cases; and $5 billion for community violence intervention programs.
Overall, the announcements underscore Biden’s effort to balance liberals’ push for police reform and gun control with voters’ concerns about rising crime. With congressional elections looming in November, Republicans have hit hard on a message that Democratic city officials are trying to destroy or eliminate police departments.
Yes, but …
Biden’s proposals, which require congressional approval, amount to providing more specifics of his 2023 $5.8 trillion budget unveiled in March. Biden will not announce any new executive actions Thursday, and he has acknowledged that the recent gun legislation, while including the most significant firearms restrictions in decades, fell far short of his ambitions following mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Tex.
Emphasis mine. This announcement is clearly designed for two purposes. First, Biden needs to talk about some voter priority, but he has nothing good to add on inflation. Every time Biden tries to “message” voters, voters keep “messaging” him back by ever-deeper plunges in job approval and favorability ratings. He’s run out of others to blame, so at the moment he likely has decided that it’s better to avoid talking about inflation.
Second, Biden needs to protect vulnerable House Democrats, who have been agitating for a vote on these proposals for months. House progressives have blocked the path for adding to police funding, however, and Punchbowl reports this morning that they’re likely to continue obstructing progress:
As we reported in June,a group of 30 House Democrats led by Gottheimer sent a letter to party leaders urging them to bring a package of police funding bills to the floor for an up-or-down vote.
In that letter, the group chided the House Judiciary Committee for refusing to consider any of the bills, which would boost funding for smaller police departments and provide grants to address police staffing shortages and train mental health responders.
The CBC, meanwhile, briefly discussed the policing bills during their weekly meeting on Wednesday, members told us. However, the topic was essentially tabled as lawmakers decided they would need a separate gathering to discuss the legislation in detail.
And that doesn’t even touch on the progressives, many of whom are very vocally opposed to providing any additional funding for police departments.
Instead of passing a policing bill, progressives are instead focusing their effort on another “assault weapons” ban under the guidance of Jerry Nadler. This has already drawn opposition from within the House Democrat caucus, perhaps enough to sink it altogether:
There’s already four Democrats expected to vote against the bill: Reps. Jared Golden (Maine), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Kurt Schrader (Oregon) and Ron Kind (Wis.). And several other Democrats, including O’Halleran and Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (Texas), remain undecided or non-committal.
Vulnerable Democrats, especially those in the toughest districts, are desperate to see action on their priorities ahead of the August recess. And they’re privately frustrated that leadership is focused on moving an assault weapons bill – something that won’t become law – when other pressing issues remain unaddressed in their minds.
Exactly. Nadler and Pelosi are focusing on a performative-politics stunt that has zero chance of even getting to 50 votes in the Senate, let alone the 60 needed to get past a cloture vote. Rather than focus on a win with some policing support, Democratic leadership wants one more glorious failure before the midterms.
Why, it’s as if Democratic leadership is entirely incompetent. And when Joe Biden’s political judgment appears more sound, then you know the party is in deep trouble.