Senator Tim Scott Responds to Biden “Defund” Pivot

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Tim Scott went to the floor of the Senate to respond to President Biden’s pivot away from “defund the police” rhetoric amid sinking poll numbers. Senator Scott urged the president and Democrats to match their actions to their words by coming back to the negotiating table to work on bipartisan legislation to give more resources to police departments.

Watch or read his speech below.

“This week, President Biden’s State of the Union speech addressed an issue I have long worked on—the issue of police reform.

“After years—and I do mean years—of Democrats touting unpopular defund the police policies, they have finally seen the light. Maybe it’s the light on their sinking polling numbers. And they are now voicing support for funding our men and women in uniform.

“Crime is one of the top issues people across this country are facing. Homicides are up 44 percent in major cities since 2019.

“And minority communities that have been impacted the most are crying out for help. Eight-five percent is the number of the increase from 2019 to 2020, in the murders and violent crimes in Black and Hispanic communities.

“In addition, last year was one of the most dangerous, deadliest years for law enforcement on record, with the most officers being shot in the line of duty since they began tracking the numbers. That’s nearly a 70 percent increase in officers being shot while simply trying to do their duty, take care of the community, and return to their families.

“So, this is not an issue between law enforcement or the minority community. This is an issue of both.

“Today, 80 percent of African Americans all over the country want the same level of policing or higher levels of policing. They want their neighborhoods safe because they understand … the importance of the presence of character-driven law enforcement officers patrolling our communities.

“The numbers, they simply do not lie. That’s why we must increase funding for police departments, so they can have the training and equipment, the resources necessary to do their jobs, keeping themselves safe and the neighborhoods that they patrol safe at the exact same time.

“In his speech this week, President Biden named things I’ve been working on and supporting for years, along with my Republican colleagues. We have literally been supporting the issues he raised for the last two or three years.

“My legislation, the JUSTICE Act, was filibustered on this very floor by Senate Democrats in 2020. It contained hundreds of millions of dollars for the very things President Biden—under duress—in an election year for so many Democrats [is] now advocating for.

“In my bill, as an example, we funded training, we funded storage, and we funded the purchase of more body-worn cameras because the polling and the stats are undeniable. Violent crime against our officers [goes] down, violent crime against the community goes down. We funded training on alternatives for the use of force, we funded de-escalation training, we addressed the issues of behavioral health.

“We funded efforts to ensure law enforcement officers come from diverse backgrounds that reflect the communities they serve. But Democrats refused to support those efforts.

“Fast-forward to 2021. The legislation that I was negotiating on over the last year would ban chokeholds, with the only exception being the life of the officer.

“We took a strong stance on no-knock warrants, we worked to provide support for officers who are experiencing PTSD, and we supported providing co-responders to scenes where there was a mental health episode happening.

“The truth is, we were almost there—getting a bill done—when my negotiating partners left the table.

“In this election year, I’m glad President Biden and Democrats are now suddenly talking positively about an issue that every community around the country has been talking about for the last two years. But I want more than talk; I want to see action.

“I’m still at the table. I’m still waiting for anyone from anywhere at any time to show up at this table and take care of our police officers so they can continue to take care of our communities.

“I look forward to re-introducing legislation very quickly to refund the police after so many efforts to defund the police have succeeded in cities across our great nation.

“I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle: Come back to the negotiating table that I never left, so that we can ensure the proper level of funding for our officers who provide great levels of safety for our communities.”