House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) admitted Thursday that she does not have the votes to pass a public-safety bill, a blow to vulnerable Democrats who are trying to run against accusations that the party wants to defund the police.
Pelosi canceled a planned vote this week on a bill that would fund grant programs for local police departments to hire additional police officers.
The policies were introduced by two vulnerable Democrats, Reps. Abigail Spanberger (Va.) and Josh Gottheimer (N.J.). But other Democrats and left-wing activist groups bristled at the proposals. The Congressional Black Caucus opposed extra funding for police departments, citing alleged shootings of unarmed black men. Other interest groups, such as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, chaired by "defund the police" proponent Maya Wiley, called the proposals part of a "discriminatory criminalization-first approach to public safety." Those disagreements led Pelosi to cancel a vote because she lacked enough Democratic "yeas."
The bill's failure presents a critical blow to vulnerable Democrats fighting back against accusations that their party is anti-law enforcement. Spanberger's proposal was introduced with Rep. Tom Rice (R., S.C.) in a rare act of bipartisanship on the sensitive issue of policing. Although Democratic leadership says the House will revisit the bill in August, congressional insiders say a vote is unlikely given the high number of legislative priorities.
Republicans intend to take advantage of Pelosi's decision by painting Democrats as weak on crime. Republican campaign ads across the country include clips of their opponents and Democratic leaders calling for cuts to police departments.
"Democrats never miss an opportunity to remind voters they hate the police," a National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon.
Polling shows that the "Defund the Police" slogan, adopted by many Democrats after the death of George Floyd in 2020, damaged the party's reputation with voters. An April Gallup poll found Americans more concerned with violent crime than at any time in the last six years, prompted by historic spikes in shootings and homicide in 2020 and 2021.