Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25, top Democrats in Congress have stopped mentioning the police in remarks about government workers in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the nationwide protests against police, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) repeatedly included police officers when listing government employees who would be aided by Democratic coronavirus relief legislation.
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Pelosi touted police as some of the "heroes" that the Democrat-sponsored HEROES Act would benefit.
"That's the title of our bill: The HEROES Act," Pelosi said on May 14. "The health care workers, the first responders, police, fire, emergency services, sanitation, food workers, our teachers, transportation workers, and the rest."
Pelosi mentioned police at least nine other times in remarks about Democratic coronavirus bills before Floyd died. In an MSNBC interview on May 26, a day after Floyd's death, she included them in her comments about the bill, but since then has substituted "first responders" for police.
"First, the three pillars to the HEROES Act," she said on July 10. "It's called the HEROES Act because it's about our heroes: our health care workers, our teachers, our first responders, our transit workers, our food suppliers, and the rest; sanitation workers."
Schumer has also deleted "police" from his remarks about coronavirus relief. He publicly mentioned them at least 12 times before Floyd died when discussing government workers affected by the pandemic. Since Floyd's death, there have been at least 11 occasions in which Schumer omitted the police from such lists.
"No proposals to help state and local governments retain teachers and firefighters, bus drivers and police officers," Schumer said on May 11, two weeks before Floyd died.
The senator used nearly identical phrasing on July 29, but substituted "other public employees" for "police officers."
"There’s $2 billion for a new FBI building whose location will increase the value of the Trump hotel, but no funding to help state and local governments retain teachers, firefighters, bus drivers and other public employees," Schumer said.
Schumer also frequently warned of potential layoffs of police officers because of coronavirus before Floyd's death.
"They're going to have to lay off firefighters who protect us, police officers, bus drivers, food safety workers, hospital workers," Schumer told CBS on May 1.
On June 30, the Senate majority leader mourned potential layoffs for government workers but left out policemen.
"Last night, Democrats asked our colleagues to pass emergency funding for state, local, and tribal governments who are finalizing their budgets—today—and may be forced to cut vital services and lay off teachers, firefighters and other public employees," he said.