- McConnell ridiculed the idea of defunding the police while speaking to a group of local and law enforcement officials in Owensboro, Kentucky Tuesday
- The Senate majority leader also took a swing at the movement to end qualified immunity, which has gained traction among some House Democrats
- His comments on defunding police come as major cities across the U.S. move toward increasing their police budgets – though some promised the reverse
- When asked about the January 6 commission bill that recently failed to pass in the Senate, McConnell said the bipartisan effort was ‘not necessary’
- He did however stand by his previous comments on the Capitol riot, including condemnations of former President Donald Trump
- Some cities who previously said they would defund their police departments have already reversed their stances and are upping their budgets
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ridiculed the idea of defunding the police as ‘one of the dumbest ideas ever surfaced by anyone’ in the United States in a speech on Tuesday.
He stood by his decision not to back the commission into the Capitol riot on January 6, by saying it’s ‘not necessary.’
McConnell spoke after a Memorial Day weekend of violence where cities including Houston, Miami and New Orleans saw a spate of murders.
Three people were killed and 27 were shot in Chicago, there were 10 murders in Houston and a mass shooting outside a Miami banquet hall left two dead and 23 others injured.
Speaking at an event about a federal anti-drug program in Owensboro, Kentucky, the Republican senator told a seemingly friendly crowd that included law enforcement officers that it had been a ‘really tough year for law enforcement’ while also slamming the ‘completely unwarranted’ abuse he says they have grappled with.
‘I am a strong supporter of law enforcement across America. I think the abuse that’s been heaped on law enforcement over the last year is unfortunate,’ McConnell said. ‘We need what you’re doing.’
He circled back to the anti-drug program as an example of why he says police are necessary.
‘Drug abuse is certainly a disease, but there’s a law enforcement aspect of it. It’s pretty darn important where they’re getting it, and what are we gonna do about it. And so we can’t do it without you and we’re grateful for you,’ he said.
‘Defund the police’ has been a popular rallying cry with progressives and far-left activists ever since the murder of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man, at the hands of white police officer Derek Chauvin.
Floyd’s death in May 2020 sparked national outrage and protests for racial justice, occasionally marked by the destruction of private businesses and clashes between demonstrators and police in cities like Minneapolis, New York and others.
Subsequent and highly-publicized killings of black Americans by police fueled activists and some progressive lawmakers’ calls to defund the police, though the idea has not picked up steam with mainstream Democrats like President Joe Biden.
But despite their apparent hesitance to align themselves with far-left Democrats, moderates from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have criticized police departments over use-of-force incidents.
McConnell said Tuesday it was important for lawmakers to ‘make it absolutely clear, we respect law enforcement, we think you’re essential within our country.’
‘I hope these various cities around the country that are flirting with reducing law enforcement funding will sober up here at some point,’ he said.
And it appears they have – major cities including New York City, Baltimore and Los Angeles have backpedaled on pledges to defund police departments.
Surging violent crime rates across the nation’s big urban centers have forced mayors to reinstate or increase police funding that some reallocated in a show of activism last year.
Out of the country’s 20 largest police departments, budgets submitted for at least nine of them show requests to increase police funding by 1 to 6 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reversed course on a promised $1 billion budget cut to the NYPD, now looking to allocate $92 million for a new precinct.
In Baltimore, Mayor Brandon Scott is asking for a $27 increase to police funding after leading efforts to cut the budget by $22 million as a city councilman.
Despite his full-throated pledge to support law enforcement communities – including a stance against ending qualified immunity that recently gained steam among some House Democrats – McConnell maintained that calls for a commission exploring why Captiol police were left outnumbered on January 6 and without National Guard support for hours were superfluous.
‘This is probably the most comprehensive Justice Department investigation in the history of the country going on right now – multiple people have been arrested, many will be prosecuted, nobody’s going to get away with anything who was involved in the incident at the Capitol on January the 6,’ he said.
‘With regard to it not happening again, changing our security plan, that’s being done internally in the Senate by two different committees right now’
The Kentucky Republican also said he stands by everything he has previously said on the incident, including condemnations against former President Trump.
‘I think we’ll know everything we need to know – we were all witnesses, we were right there when it happened, and I simply think the commission is not necessary,’ he said.