The markup process for legislation in either house of Congress usually isn’t the venue for heated rhetoric, but Tuesday was the exception.
The occasion was the markup of several bills before the House Judiciary Committee, the highest-profile of them the “COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act,” according to Fox News.
The deliberation comes amid a spending spree by Democrats and a parallel issue for the majority party, the troubling rhetoric of several of its members in regards to law enforcement.
GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas took issue with both during his remarks in committee.
After another member noted nothing was being cut in terms of services, Roy said police budgets were the biggest casualty of the past year, pointing to “dramatic cuts and attacks on law enforcement.”
Austin, Texas — “run by Democrats,” as Roy pointed out — slashed its police budget significantly in the wake of the George Floyd protests last year.
He said police there “are absolutely demoralized. They are crushed. Go talk to the law enforcement. They are fleeing the city.”
Austin takes money from the federal government and now, Roy said, the city struggles with a serious homeless problem.
But meanwhile, what are prominent Democrats saying about police officers?
Let’s first take Rep. Maxine Waters of California, who made a detour to Minnesota on Saturday to talk to activists protesting the death of Daunte Wright on April 11 — and to insist former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin be found guilty on all counts in Floyd’s death.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) to BLM protesters in Brooklyn Center, MN:
“[Protestors] got to stay on the street and get more active, more confrontational. They’ve got to know that we mean business.” pic.twitter.com/GLIPoLwZnd
— Bree A Dail (@breeadail) April 18, 2021
“And then to listen to members of this body say, and I quote, ‘I hope we get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty,'” Roy said during the hearing Tuesday, quoting Waters. “‘And if we don’t, we cannot go away. We’ve got to stay on the streets. We get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure they know that we mean business.'”
These comments were problematic enough, having taken place in the Twin Cities area before the Chauvin jury was sequestered, that the judge in the case said they could be grounds for overturning the case on appeal.
“How irresponsible can a member of Congress be than to say that and then to have the judge in the case that the whole nation is watching say that that might throw the case out on appeal?” Roy said. “That is what we’re talking about.”
Meanwhile, Waters wasn’t the only Democrat with an incendiary take on Chauvin and Wright. There was also Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib:
It wasn’t an accident. Policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist.
Daunte Wright was met with aggression & violence. I am done with those who condone government funded murder.
No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) April 12, 2021
“We are talking about the quote by another member of this body: ‘It wasn’t an accident. Policing in our country is inherently and intentionally racist. I’m done with those who condone government-funded murder.’ Government-funded murder,” Roy said. “‘No more policing.’ Quote, ‘No more policing.'”
Rep. Roy smacks down Democrat attacks on law enforcement and radical efforts to #DefundThePolice:
“It is the central issue of our day right now to make sure this country is safe!” pic.twitter.com/9OG1WlDD6V
— Rep. Chip Roy Press Office (@RepChipRoy) April 20, 2021
“‘No more policing, incarceration, or militarization. It can’t be reformed,’” he continued. “To say this is irrelevant? It’s the central issue of our day right now to make sure this country is safe.”
Roy had previously called upon House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to sanction both members and remove them from their committees. This wouldn’t be a small thing, particularly given Waters and Tlaib are two of the highest-profile members on the left flank of the Democratic Party and Waters is the chairwoman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee.
This is not difficult. @SpeakerPelosi must act to censure Reps. Waters & Tlaib & remove them from all committees. They have forfeited their right to participate in committee work due to their incendiary rhetoric designed to foment violence & hate toward police officers & others.
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) April 19, 2021
Whether Roy expected this to happen or not is anyone’s guess — because Democrats couldn’t even find it in them to censure Waters for remarks that could theoretically, if one is to go by Judge Peter Cahill’s remarks, end with the guilty verdict in the Chauvin trial being thrown out on appeal.
On Tuesday, Democrats blocked a resolution to censure Waters by a 216-210 party-line vote, according to CBS News. The resolution had been introduced by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who said her remarks were “beneath the dignity” of the House and “raised the potential for violence, directed lawlessness, and may have interfered with a co-equal branch of government.”
Pelosi said she didn’t believe Waters should apologize for her comments, either.
“Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement,” Pelosi said during a news conference Monday, according to the Daily Caller. “I myself think we should take our lead from the George Floyd family. They’ve handled this with great dignity and no ambiguity or lack of misinterpretation by either side.”
“No, no, I don’t think [Waters] should apologize,” she added.
And this is where we are in the modern Democratic Party. Waters can call for violence but it’s merely “confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement.” Tlaib can talk about defunding the police in the context of entirely dismantling America’s law enforcement apparatus, after a year of funding cuts have already decimated departments across the country, and that’s all right.
Say what you will about the Democrats, they’ve accomplished one thing over the past year: They’ve normalized anti-police rhetoric.
Whether a heated House Judiciary Committee markup hearing draws conservatives’ attention to the corrosion these kinds of remarks are causing is anyone’s guess. Something has to.
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